We posted several weeks ago about outdoor water conservation. WOW are folks ever interested in this topic! In case some of you missed it, I’m reposting it here. Enjoy! Don’t forget to weigh in on your own favorite ways to conserve water for outside use.
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Originally published 01-30-13
by Tammy Taylor
With two consecutive years of drought, conserving water is all the buzz these days. But conserving our natural resources has always been something that’s important to me. Water is such a precious resource and there are concerns that our nation’s water supply is being over-tapped in many areas. There are lots of ways to conserve water inside the house such as turning off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, using low-flow aerators in your faucets and washing clothes and dishes only when the machines are full. Of course we do all of those things but today I want to focus on water usage outside the house.
I read recently on an EPA-sponsored website that about 30% of the water used by the average American family is used outdoors. That means there’s lots of water that can be conserved! We try to use only collected rainwater for outside purposes. I’ve certainly had to buckle a few times from my stubborn “Use only rainwater when watering plants” mindset in order to save our trees and shrubs during the last two years of drought, but typically our outside water usage is 100% from rainwater collection. Although there have been minor start-up costs involved with my water conservation efforts, I’m blessed to have a very handy husband who can pretty much fabricate anything I need done for very little cash outlay.
We have a rain barrel attached to one of our downspouts to collect rainwater from a section of the roof. We use this water for various tasks such as washing off garden tools, adding moisture to the compost or watering nearby shrubs and flowers. We obtained a food-grade 55-gallon barrel and my husband installed a faucet on the bottom of the barrel and mounted a hand-pump to the top. He also installed an overflow that drains into an adjoining container when the rain barrel is full. There’s never standing water in the overflow container for long since it’s ideal for dipping my watering can into when watering potted plants on our back porch or dipping my temporary compost bucket when rinsing out my container or adding moisture to the compost tumbler. The rainwater barrel is set up on a cinder-block platform so that water can easily be gravity fed through a water hose when we water the trees.
We also have an underground pipe connected to another downspout that runs to a cement cistern. Rainwater is collected from this part of the roof and travels directly to the underground cistern, which was constructed many years ago and was used by a previous household that used to stand here until the early 1960’s. We now use the cistern to collect and store our own rainwater.
This cistern is 20-feet deep and will hold lots of water! Water collects quickly with even a light rain and is subsequently drawn to water my vegetable garden using a small well pump. This keeps my garden watered during the months when rainfall alone is not sufficient to keep the veggies growing. The water from the cistern combined with heavy mulching in my raised veggie beds using spent hay from around the hay rings typically keeps our garden productive even during the struggling summer months in Northeast Texas.
We can learn from each others experiences – what methods do you use in your household to conserve water?