Water Conservation & Harvesting
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Conservation - Water
Water, like air, is vital to our lives. Rather than relying on a complex system of reservoirs, chemical treatment, pumping stations, pipe work and sewers created by utility companies, we can put some of our faith in the natural cycle of water. Using sensible conservation techniques, we can reduce our demand for water by at least 50 percent.
The roof of a typical home can collect enough water to supply a family of three with most of it's annual water needs. The first stage of reusing rainwater is to simply store it in a couple of plastic barrels or rain water tanks for use in the garden, lawns and washing outside equipment.
The next stage is to construct a plastic or concrete tank underground where water will remain cool and clean. The low temperature is important because dangerous bacteria does not grow in cool water. While rainwater is basically safe, many areas of the world have high levels of air pollution, making the direct use of rainwater for drinking, potentially harmful. Make sure the roof collecting the rainwater is LEAD FREE and has not been made from zinc or asbestos. Water needs to be stored below 60 degrees F. or above 130 degrees F. to prevent bacteria growth. If water is stored between these temperatures, you are at risk from Legionnaires' disease.
Rainwater, can now be introduced to the household hot water system and to specific areas for use other than drinking - washer, showers, toilets. Keep a drinking tap in the kitchen, on a separate piping system. You will need to install a check value to ensure the rainwater can not enter the "city" drinking water supply.
DIY Rain Barrels - collect water for garden or lawns. Making your own rain barrels is a simple, cost effective project. Here are step by steps instructions on how to make your own rain barrels: DIY Rain Barrels
Shower Heads - replace all shower heads with a reduced flow head. This simple step will reduce water usage in the show by half, without any noticeable reduction in pressure.
Faucet Aerator - install an aerator on the end of each faucet to reduce flow by 50 percent. Don't run tap water while brushing teeth, shaving or washing dishes.
Fix Leaks - depending on the flow of the drip, a leaking faucet could consume 10 percent of your daily water usage.
Car Wash - wash your car by hand, using a bucket. Turn water off between soaping down and final rinse.
Toilets - install dual flush toilets. A dual flush toilet can reduce water usage by 70 percent over an older style, high flow tank. Here's a list of the numerous types of Ultra Low Flush (ULF) toilets that are available today: Ultra Low Flush Toilets
Dishwashers - While older dishwashing machines used large quantities of water, A-rated machines actually use less water and energy than washing by hand. They sense the dirtiness of the water and decide whether it can be used twice. They also use hot water from one cycle to water the water for the next and use cold water to condense steam so dishes can be dried with air alone.
Washing Machines - like dishwashers, have only recently become water efficient. Again, see the APPLICANCE section for a comparison of models. Of course, wash only full loads and dry on the line.
GRAY WATER or GREY WATER
The term gray water, applies to the "not so dirty" water from your sink, washers and showers. If you are going to reuse this water for your plants, lawn, pond, etc., then don't use dangerous chemicals in the house such as chlorine and ammonia. If reusing this water, it should be filtered. A natural filtering system, is to run the gray water into an elevated bed with gravel on top, finer stones, then sand on the bottom. This bed then flows into a storage pond containing reeds and other water loving plants. The gravel bed filters the particles out of the water and the plants and bacteria in the pond break down the more complex chemicals in the water. Even if you don't plan to use this gray water for other areas, you've greatly reduced the flow into the sewer system.
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