Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Precious Water

It's been gently raining here since 6.30am and shows no sign of stopping.  I'm pleased.  We need the rain.  We provide all our own water here, via rainwater tanks for the house and I pump water from the dam for the veggie patch.  When you are responsible for your own water you realise how precious it is and how wasteful we can be with it.  Last year we had virtually no rain for four months and the tanks almost halved and we started to realise that if rain didn't come we could be in major trouble.  Fortunately the rain did come, but the scare put us back on track with our water saving program.

I have always thought it ridiculous that most of we fortunate few in, so called, developed, countries, flush our toilets with beautiful drinking water.  I wonder what many of the refugees who come to Australia think about that?  We know we don't have enough water now and so we are building things like desalination plants and dams to provide more.  These measures harm the environment.  They take resources, destroy rivers and they decimate habitat.  As our climate continues to change, and droughts become more prevalent, we will all have to find better ways to use the water that falls from the sky.

So what do we do?
  • We catch as much of it as we can.  We have tanks attached to the house, the shed and we have extra barrels catching overflow water that can't go to the tanks.  This we can dip from to water gardens before we have to reach for the tap.
  • We capture the water from our first flush filter system, (this is the initial rain that falls and is diverted to ensure only clean water goes to the tanks for us to drink).  This is still good quality water for plants and so a shame to waste.
  • We mulch our gardens heavily so that rain and other watering's last as long as possible. 
  • We deep water rarely, instead of shallow watering regularly.  This encourages deep root growth.
  • We have bowls in every sink.  We capture excess water from
    hand washing etc.The hand washing water goes to flush the toilet (more on that in a minute), and excess water caught in the kitchen is used to rinse dirty plates etc. so the tap isn't turned on for such things. 
  • We run 3 buckets in the shower, (well generally two at a time), the excess water caught here, plus hand washing water caught in the wash basin is used to flush number one's down the toilet.  (We still use the button for number 2). 
  • We hand wash our dishes once per day.  We use non-toxic washing up liquid and so rinsing isn't required. 
  • We use a front loading washing machine which uses much less water than a top loader.
  • We don't often wash our cars but for special occasions they go to a car washing place where the water is recaptured and recycled.
  • Water caught in an old shed tank, which is not drinkable, is used to wash out bins etc.
  • Any garden watering done is done in the later afternoon to ensure non of it evaporates away.
  • Taps are turned off when we are cleaning our teeth or soaping up our hands.
  • I use Enjoy cloths to clean the house and floors.  These clean with water only and a minimal amount of it.
Hmm that's all I can think of at this point.  I have to say that far from being an irritation, I gain enormous satisfaction from the amount of water we save.  As you start to realise just how much water can be flushed away or simply run away from a tap left on, you know that you are making a difference.  Whether your water is provided to your home or not, I'd encourage everyone to take up these measures.  More and more water is becoming "user pays" so your hip pocket will thank you too.  So come on which water saving measures have I missed?  Leave them in a comment.

1 comment:

  1. We've diverted all our grey water from bath/shower and laundry troughs through a long pipe-hose out onto the ground beneath fruit trees as well as all the other measures you've described :)

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