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Conservation collaboration: Water recycled for training use by firefighters

Charlie Faber of C&D Contractors pumps water out of a water truck at the Grass Valley Fire Department's training area, where it will drain into a holding tank.
Photo for The Union by Liz Kellar |

The prospect of flushing thousands of gallons of water down the street — in a drought year — didn’t sound appealing to the builder and contractors working on the brand-new Western Sierra Medical Clinic currently under construction on Old Tunnel Road.

But clearing the fire sprinkler lines of any potential debris remaining was an absolute necessity.

Thanks to a unique collaboration dreamed up by Grass Valley Deputy Fire Marshal Jeff Wagner, that water instead was piped into a water truck and hauled to the underground tanks at Grass Valley Fire Department’s training center on Sierra College Drive.



“That idea for the recycling of the water was born out of discussions between myself, Jeff, and Charlie Faber of C&D Contractors,” said Daniel Swartzendruber of Tru-Line Builders Inc. “Our only other option was to flush it down the street.”

“Anytime fire sprinklers go in (new construction), the underground fire service has to be flushed,” Wagner said.




It’s a necessity, he explained, because debris like rocks and gravel could have settled in the system during construction. Typically, when lines are flushed, the water goes out on the ground and is wasted.

“Because of the drought year, the contractor agreed to help us conserve by bringing in a water truck to collect the water,” Wagner said. “This is costing them money to do it this way.”

Thursday morning, Faber was on hand to fill the truck and transport the water to the fire station, where it was pumped out onto the concrete to drain into the underground tank. He estimated he would repeat that process three times, recycling an estimated 12,000 to 16,000 gallons of water.

“Jeff had the idea and Charlie had to agree to figure out the logistics to make it happen,” Swartzendruber said.

The training center has a 36,000-gallon tank, which was down to about 10 percent, Wagner said.

“They do recycle all the water they use, but lose a certain amount due to evaporation,” he said. “The directive from the chief was, when that (water) is gone, we’re done. We have a group of new interns that need to train, so this will help.”

Faber was glad to help out, he said.

“It (would have been) a pretty big waste of water,” Faber said. “We’re doing right, recycling in a time of water shortage.”

Added Swartzendruber, “It is challenging to have the requirement to flush and to not have a good way to recycle the water. With the drought we currently are in, I’m glad we can be a part of repurposing any water we can.”

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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