Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Attack Your Water Bill from All Directions!

by guest blogger Steve Barancik

Can you improve your sustainability? We have! At least when it comes to water.


This is our most recent water bill. As you can see, our water usage has been trending sharply down over the last two years. We're now at about 30% of average residential consumption.

We've managed this drop despite:
  • Keeping a garden
  • Keeping chickens
  • Nurturing a couple fruit trees (while giving the death penalty to a couple others)
  • Planting trees and cactus constantly!
It can be done...and you can save money while doing!
(And remember: lowering your water consumption lowers your sewer bill as well.)

THE STUFF WE'VE DONE

We guttered up part of the roof, where runoff was not being made good use of, and attached the gutters to a tank....



That water now goes toward fruit trees and the garden.

Do we use ollas in that garden?...


Why yes, we do.

We turned off the irrigation to our landscape plants....


You'd be surprised how many of your plants are established and don't need it!


We removed the "weed-control" plastic from both front and back yards....


We used passive water harvesting techniques to:

-redirect (and infiltrate) water where it's needed....


- keep water from jumping the curb and leaving the property....



- and capture water that runs by the property or runs onto the property from neighboring properties!...


We dug a basin and diverted alley runoff to support a mature oak without groundwater....


And by the way, we eat from that oak. So do our chickens!

One key thing we do is make use of our graywater...and here's the thing: We don't HAVE a graywater system; we ARE the system. We capture shower water in buckets....



...and sink water in a dishpan.


(That's Lisa—the other half of "we." She thought of the dishpan as a graywater tool!)

We even catch laundry water in a bucket!...


The tank holds the laundry and spins. The spigot drains the water

Oh, and speaking of buckets...


Why would I go out of my way to get a straight-sided bucket? Well, it certainly makes scooping water out of a flooded street easier! All it takes is a quarter inch rain event for me to be able to fill basins that aren't filling on their own.

I'm a big believer in the water-saving powers of mulch....


I not only try to make use of all the debris and cuttings from plants on my property, but...


I've been known to rescue landfill-bound rakings from neighbors as well!

I even use a technique to irrigate BENEATH my mulch in order to lose less moisture to evaporation.


When it comes to water, I contextualize our use by comparing it with what falls on our 8,257 sq ft lot. At 11.59 in. of rain in a normal year, we have just under 8000 cu. ft. falling on us. Our groundwater use for the last year was only 3300 cu. ft., so I'm pretty happy. I'll be happier still if you're able to put any of these techniques to use yourself!

Another benefit...

This shaded walkway didn’t exist when I moved in six years ago...


Steve is a teacher who thinks his students deserve better than what we're leaving them. You can read more on his facebook page

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