EPA-Backed Startup to Use Plants to Recycle All Household Wastewater

LeapFrog's current technology addresses greywater, but the funding could help it deal with blackwater.

Leap Frog

LeapFrog Design, a provider of nature-based water treatment and reuse solutions, has been awarded $500,000 in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). LeapFrog will use the funding to adapt its proven greywater reuse technology for onsite septic treatment and reuse.

LeapFrog's Estuary and Cascade are plant-powered ecological water treatment systems. On the surface, a modern planter box or greenwall adds beauty to the landscape with native and ornamental plants. On the inside, plant roots and microbes clean greywater for reuse in toilet flushing and irrigation.

LeapFrog's current technology addresses greywater — water from bathroom sinks, showers, and washing machines. This EPA funding will help the company adapt that technology to also address blackwater — water from toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers. The resulting solution could recycle all household wastewater onsite for reuse in toilet flushing and irrigation.

In many rural areas, septic and cesspools are currently the best options available for household wastewater treatment. LeapFrog's nature-based blackwater treatment and reuse system would be a more hygienic, sustainable, beautiful, and cost-effective solution for these communities.

For example, in Hawaii, cesspools significantly impact water quality, reef health, and public health. Replacing cesspools is often very expensive. LeapFrog's technology, once adapted for blackwater, would provide a beautiful, environmentally-responsible solution, at a much lower cost.

Wastewater from cesspools pollutes the ocean, weakening coral reefs, making them more vulnerable to die-off during heatwaves. Treating water onsite prevents nitrogen from leaching into the ocean, strengthening and preserving the coral reefs. It beautifies the homeowner's property by removing unsightly, unhealthy cesspools, and provides extra water for additional landscaping. It saves everyone money, energy, and carbon.

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