Once a status symbol of wealth and affluence, the iconic topaz swimming pool has, in more recent times, been tainted as a wasteful pit of water and energy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Designed by Craig England, the ingenious puRE water filtration system (not to be mistaken for that other system with no “E”) rehabilitates resource-greedy pools into productive designs for society by giving them new jobs as mini wastewater treatment plants! The forward-thinking design is one of 20 finalists in our ReBurbia competition to redesign our suburbs.
Using the same principles employed in constructed wetlands, puRE treats wastewater through six stages. Wastewater first flows into closed treatment tanks during the first two stages before reaching four separate purification cells in stages 3-6. These purification cells contain several species of aquatic plants and animals which remove pollutants naturally and even allow for small-scale food production as a by-product. The solids from the wastewater stream are filtered and directed to a communal methane digester, generating another bounty for its users – power.
PuRE stands for peri-urban Revitalization Element, and the system lives up to its name because it performs so many functions that bring new life the areas around them while allowing neighborhoods to drastically reduce their dependence on bottled water and store-bought food. Although each system only needs one pool to hook up to, each unit can service up to five homes, meaning that not everyone has to have a pool to enjoy the energy, food and clean drinking water that this clever system facilitates.