Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Treating Water Mindfully #CTWW

It's easy to take water for granted since it comes out of a tap and disappears down a drain, but it's really something to be mindful of. The most recent Change The World Wednesday Challenge is about this:
To begin, test your water conservation knowledge by taking this QUIZ

THEN ... 

Install at least one low-flow aerator on a faucet in your home. These are relatively inexpensive from hardware stores and are easily installed (just screw them on).

OR ...

If you've already installed aerators on your faucets, choose one other way to conserve water this week. 
As a homeowner, I've been working on  long-term water conservation measures for my house and neighborhood. Seattle is a soggy city but we can't take our water supply for granted; we depend on the snowpack for much of our water and that's endangered by global warming. In our admittedly short dry season, we have to think carefully about water use and, anyway, who wants to pay the utility for water if we can save money? Finally, managing stormwater is a big issue; with population expansion and increased precipitation from global warming, we can expect this to be an even bigger issue in the future.
One  measure I took without really thinking about the water conservation aspect is to re-roof in metal. Every homeowner has to deal with a roof, and convention roofs in America use petro-based composite shingles. This is a silly use of a scarce resource and, of more direct interest, it may leach petroleum products into the rainwater gathered by the roof. When I re-roofed, I spent the extra money for a metal roof. This will last almost forever so its greater up-front costs will be justified, albeit only by the time I am quite elderly. But what the heck, I'll need the money then anyway. With respect to water, I got an unintended side-benefit - the rainwater from the roof doesn't have cr@p from shingles in it! I believe it is clean enough to drink, although I don't; I use it for gardening instead. Since I installed two 300-gallon cisterns
My cisterns bring
the H2O to the yard!
to gather the stuff (as part of the Seattle Rainwise program), I have not had to pay for water for my gardens for 11 out of 12 months of the year!
There is still plenty to do with water management, of course. My current simple-things experiment is to set buckets in visually neutral locations on my patio, where they passively gather rainwater I use for gardening, tool cleaning and the like. The buckets were free from my local recycling center; the proprietor explained that people bring recyclables in those buckets and then abandon them, and he hasn't figured out a way to recycle them. Therefore he gave me a stack to play with!
I need to figure out some sort of screening mechanism for the mosquito season, but otherwise the bucket system is working fine within its limitations.
A more complicated issue will be replumbing the house to use greywater on the gardens and rainwater for filling toilet tanks. I frankly don't know plumbing and will be happy to pay an expert to do it right, but haven't figure out the economics of this yet.
Finally, treating water mindfully is a challenge, and who doesn't like a challenge?

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