Rose Marie Berger. The Texas Two-Step. George W. and Laura Bush’s new Crawford, Texas home boasts a stunning array of eco-friendly features—perhaps not what you’d expect from one of the least environmentally friendly administrations since…um, creation.
The Bush ranch house in Crawford was designed by Austin environmental architect David Heymann, and built by members of a religious community from nearby Elm Mott, George W. and Laura Bush’s dream home is built of a BTU-efficient, honey-toned native limestone quarried from the nearby Edwards Limestone Formation.
The passive-solar house is positioned to absorb winter sunlight, warming the interior walkways and walls. Underground water, which remains a constant 55 degrees year-round, is piped through a heat exchange system that keeps the interior warm in winter and cool in summer. A gray water reclamation system treats and reuses waste water. Rain gutters feed a cistern hooked to a sprinkler system for watering the fruit orchard and grass. Clearly, Bush goes home from the White House to a green house.
Melinda Suchecki. Western White House Turns Green with Innovative Onsite Treatment System
The George W. Bush 1500-acre ranch is located near Crawford, Texas, about 30 miles west of Waco. Aside from the gray and black water recycling and irrigation systems, the home features geothermal heating, active and passive solar energy, and a rainwater collection system with a 40,000-gallon underground cistern. The purpose of the cistern and a separate gray water system is for surface irrigation of fruit trees.
According to Ron, “We worked with the architects and plumbers to ensure that there was separation of the gray and black water lines and confirmed their separation prior to the pour of the slab. There was resistance at first on the part of the plumbers; however, once they understood what we were trying to do, everything went off without a hitch. One person told me there was ‘no way they would get it all right, it would be too easy to cross the lines.’ My response was, ‘Then how do they keep the hot and cold water separate?'”
The black water system features over 2,000 gallons of pre-treatment and equalization tanks which meter close to a 1,000 GPD Hoot Aerobic System. However, the treatment process doesn’t stop there. The effluent leaves the aerobic system through a Polylok Effluent Filter and enters a recirculating media filter, which acts like a sand filter. The effluent passes through a unique medium several times prior to discharge from the filter, where it passes through yet another media filter before enter-ing the pump tank. “With this design, we were able to incorporate the high efficiency of an extended aerobic system with the startup and shock load capability of a sand filter. However, the established aeration system will prevent the potential plug-ging effect seen in sand filters because the water enters in 95% reduced of both BOD and TSS.”
The effluent leaves the recirculating filter and is stored in a pump tank. The Hoot Control Center operates the Lighthouse Beacon Filtration System. The filter not only performs effluent filtration, but automatically back-flushes and performs scheduled field flush cycles as well. The effluent is filtered through the 3-dimensional, 100-micron filter before being pumped 350 feet away to a four-zone drip irrigation field. The drip tubing is Netafim Bioline .62 GPH and features a pressure-compensating emitter design. The pressure-compensating design ensures even distribution throughout the entire field. The zones are automatically advanced each time the system doses, ensuring even distribution. If low levels of water usage are observed, the system can utilize just one zone to encourage plant growth.
Further complicating the design was the system location. If the system was to gravity flow, it would require all the treatment equipment to be placed right out-side the bedroom of George and Laura, between them and their new 7-acre lake. This proved to be unacceptable.
The system needed both gray and black water lift stations from the main house to pump to the location of the equipment, over 500 feet away behind the garage. The guest house gravity flows to the system. All of the controls are remotely mounted inside a specially designed utility room inside the middle of the garage. Over two miles of wiring were used to complete the remote location project.
Each tank has duplex pumps and a separate, independent alarm circuit that goes to an alarm system control panel. The system has the ability to remotely alert if one of the duplex pumps fails, latch to the next, then independently alert of a high water situation. This system is in every tank, and works even in the event of a power failure. The system is remotely monitored by an alarm company that can tell service personnel exactly what the problem is and a determination can be made if it requires immediate attention, or if a problem can wait until the next day. For example, if one of the pumps in the recirculation system has failed, then it may not require immediate attention. “If there is a high water level in the lift station on the main house,” Ron asserted, “well, there will be three of us racing to see who gets out there first.”
The Hoot systems, lift stations, and standard as well as custom tanks to complete the project were all pre-cast concrete, made by CPI of Waco, Texas. Mark Kieran of Brazos Wastewater was the installer of the system, with the majority of the hookup being completed by Ron, Jim, and Jim’s father, Frank Prochaska, from Lorena, Texas.
The incorporation of an innovative onsite wastewater strategy is a testament to the acceptance of onsite as a long-term treatment solution. The Bushes’ incorporation of environmentally sensitive approaches to their new home is an example of what individuals can do to create a better place for us all to live.
they’ve also got pecan trees, canyons with rivers and wood, wild areas with game, etc.