Keith Stubbs is not a builder or an architect or experienced at all in the construction industry and yet he spent 2020-21 building a home on an acre of land on Lake Hāwea in Central Otago.
Well, okay, he didn't build it himself. He’s keenly directing and overseeing the build with a vast number of partners in the building industry who are guiding him toward achieving his vision of a non-traditional, completely sustainable, eco-focused property.
“My goal is to create a tasteful, sustainable living and maybe one day a visitor sanctuary among a grove of established fruit and nut trees,” Keith says. His land sits between a truffle tree orchard and the Hāwea River.
He also wants to help educate other consumers about eco-building. As a professional in video marketing, he decided to film the entire process – since early 2020 - and released episodes in a multi-part video blog.
“The objective of the video is to showcase the twists and turns of creating and managing a sustainable, eco-focused building project and to help promote the products and practices of the partnering suppliers.”
Partnership with Allflow
Those partnerships with green builders, plumbers, architects and others have been absolutely critical to the project. Allflow is one of those partners. We donated our WaterMate product along with an irrigation kit that included high flow dripper line and fittings for Hawea Grove to recycle greywater for irrigation. We are featured in Episode 15, Plumbing and Greywater Systems released in April 2021 and Episode 19, Landscaping and Planting, released in July. Keith says while some decisions on the build came during the process, recycling the greywater was a decision made right from the start.
“We chose to split out our greywater from source within the house,” to irrigate the grove of fruit and nut trees. “Otherwise, we would just be sending this [grey]water back through the sewer to the town water supply to be filtered about nine times and then sent back to us to be used in exactly the same place.” Keith just shrugs at how obvious that choice was.
The WaterMate is a low-power filtration system that takes greywater from showers, hand basins, and the washing machine and filters it until its cleaned. After, it’s pumped out to an irrigation source, which for Keith will be a fruit forest. (Toilets and kitchen wastewater become blackwater that is piped to the district sewerage system.)
Allflow’s wastewater expert Alastair Lewis visited Hawea Grove after the installation of the WaterMate and helped explain the product in Episode 15. He says one of the best features of the WaterMate is that it can help relieve the pressure on septic or sewer systems.
“Taking out greywater for irrigation can often relieve over half the volume of water from a traditional house system going out to septic or into the town wastewater system.”
Another key feature is the ability to re-use household greywater for irrigation in times of drought or water shortages when you may need to conserve freshwater supplies.
The WaterMate unit comes in two sizes and has washable and replaceable filters, so it’s completely efficient and ready to use with minimal maintenance. Even Keith’s plumber said, “The beauty of this system is how easy it is to use.”
Hawea Grove is now set up to make the most of its water thanks in part to Allflow.
The Hawea Grove project is documented at www.haweagrove.nz. The project has been so successful – despite the interruption of the COVID-19 pandemic – that it was a finalist in the “Communicating for Impact” category of the New Zealand Sustainable Business Awards in 2020.