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From Shower to Flush
From Shower to Flush

Water from Portland's ubiquitous rain showers gets the once over from Portland State environmental engineers working in the Hydrology Lab, before heading for the restrooms on the ground floor of the Northwest Center for Engineering, Science and Technology.

According to director Dr. Scott Wells the lab, sponsored by Judy and Scott South, features one of Portland's most sophisticated rainwater treatment system. Copper pipes from the building's roof capture rainwater and store it in the lab's largest tank. From there water travels through a series of filters and smaller tanks that remove pollutants from the rain and roof debris, as well as bacteria, algae and other microbes as small as one micron in size. The water also undergoes ultra-violet disinfection and chlorination treatments. It then leaves the lab to serve restroom toilets on the building's ground floor.

Graduate students and faculty using the Hydrology Lab study the quality and temperature of the raw water from the roof, the effects of filtration and the success of various disinfecting processes. "The work we do here can contribute to more efficient and improved water treatment systems, which is of great concern in urban areas throughout the country," says Wells. "But recycling the water in the building is also just the right thing to do."

The Hydrology Lab is just one of many innovative sustainable features of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science's headquarters, made possible by hundreds of private contributions from individuals and industry.