2 Tips for Saving (Lots of) Water
Here in California, we’re facing water shortages and severe drought. Local municipalities now have strict water restrictions and neighbors are “drought shaming“, i.e. reporting others’ misuse of water (washing cars, sprinkling lawns). Consumers are even going after commercial growers who export crops like almonds to foreign countries or bottled water companies (like Nestle) for selling our precious water reserves for profits.
So what can you do?
Tip #1: Set up a water catchment system to collect 1000s of gallons of rainwater
I didn’t realize I could capture almost 8,000 gallons of water from just one storm until we tested out our new rain catchment systems in 2012. Surprisingly, the entire 5,000-gallon tank filled up in just one night! Nine years ago, we installed a 4,999-gallon tank (a 5,000-gallon tank requires a building permit!) to collect rainwater from the road above our house.
It was simple to do! We laid gravel on a 10-foot by 10-foot pad and Scotts Valley Sprinkler and Pipe Supply delivered it exactly where we wanted it to be. We diverted the existing drainage pipes to pour into the top of our tank and hooked the tank up to our drip irrigation system for our fruit tree orchard.
Thrilled by our ability to capture so much water in just one night, we bought 10 IBC tanks that each hold 275 gallons of water. We lined all 10 IBC tanks up behind our house and connected them together with a 2″ PVC pipe. Then we diverted one of the rain gutters from our rooftop to pour directly into one of the IBC tanks. Again, with just one storm, all 10 IBC tanks filled in just one night!
A few years later, we added 8 more IBC tanks on the other side of our house so we could capture almost all of the rain that hits our roof. We water our entire fruit orchard with these water-capture systems every summer.
It’s reassuring to know that if we are ever without water, we could always chlorinate these tanks and have drinking water. Peace of mind…
Tip #2: Reuse water from your sinks and showers
Our water tables are low and farmers have pumped so much water that land masses are buckling and surface patches are sinking. So what can you do? Use the water from your tap TWICE before it goes down the drain. Here are 2 easy ways to save between 3-6 gallons of water per person each day.
Capture the water you run while you’re waiting for the warm water in your tap. In your bathroom, place a plastic tub or bucket under your faucet to catch the water as you brush your teeth and wash your face. In the kitchen, place a pitcher or bucket to catch the water while you wash veggies or rinse dishes.
When the buckets fill up, water plants or fill up buckets in the bathroom to flush toilets later.
Fill up buckets as you wait for the hot water before showering. Depending on where your hot water heater is located, you may waste 1-2 gallons of water before the water is warm enough to step into your shower. Then, as you shower, place a bucket in front of you and one behind you to capture water as you wash your hair. With my long hair, I can fill up 3 buckets of water just to wash my hair!
When I’m done with my shower, I use these buckets to flush the toilet all day and night. I don’t use any domestic water to flush the toilet!
You can buy 1-gallon buckets at a dollar store and create this water-saving system for under $10. So lather up and capture your water. You’ll reduce the water you use and possibly prevent $500 water fines!
Check out this video to see how you could benefit from these DIY water catchment plan.
Set up your own bathroom and rooftop water systems.