One very interesting aspect to living here, at least for now, is the amount of time I now spend outside. Even when I’m inside I’m not really. I still have to go outside to pee or poop or get water or wash a dish. I’m always outside. I’m inside to sleep or if it is raining or when I’m cooking. Sometimes I eat outside, sometimes inside depending on the weather and time of day. Breakfast is usually inside but lunch and dinner, on hot days, is usually outside. It is as though I’m somewhere between camping and living in a house. I do have access to electricity and the cabin is water proof but it is far from living in a standard dwelling. It is a very different kind of life and I love it. I’ve never felt more connected to the life around me.
That’s what I’m using a day. Actually, most days I’m using between 3-4 gallons. If I wash a bit of laundry it bumps up to 6 to 7 gallons. I’m talking about personal use here not water used for growing food. For growing food I’m using a combination of hauled lake water, well water and collected rain water. Right now I’ve got 55 gallons of rain water collection but before too long that should be 440 gallons and within a year I hope to have 1100 gallons of rain water collection dedicated to food production.
In terms of personal use, while we do have the well hooked up and running I’m not using it yet because after 3 years of not being used it does not seem to be clearing up. I’ll continue using it for the next week for gardening and see if it clears up. If not I’ll have the well guy come out and have a look at the pressure tank which may have gone bad. Until then I’ll continue to haul water from a relative’s house for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
I’ve got several 5 gallon containers and 2 solar showers, 4 gallons each. For the moment I’ve got an improvised outside sink set-up for washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc. and I’ve gotten to be VERY frugal with each drop. As an example, when I do dishes I start with my cup and bowl and after it is washed the water is poured into the next water holding item such as a pot or another cup or bowl thus the soap water is used again. Last it is poured onto any plate and re-used. Rinse water is also reused as I go along.
Hand-washed laundry is also carefully orchestrated between one or two small 3 gallon wash tubs. I start with a half gallon and very small amount of soap and will wash 4-8 items starting with the least dirty items first. Rinsing is also done is this order and in increments of 1/2 gallons until the rinse water is fairly clear.
I’ve set-up a small under-sink gray water filter which consists of a clay pot filled with approximately 50% sand, 30% gravel, and 20% small rock in that order starting from the bottom of the pot and going up. I used an old and worn sock at the very bottom between the sand and the hole in the pot. This drains into a 5 gallon bucket which fills to 3 gallons every 3-4 days. This is a temporary set-up. The next version will likely consist of a 5 gallon bucket filter with an attached faucet for easy access to water. When I get a sink put into the cabin I’ll likely have it drain to a similar bucket filter just outside the cabin and the water will be used in the wild garden of native habitat plants in the partial shade area around the cabin. All soap on site is bio-degradable and phosphate free. In the very near future I’ll only be using Dr. Bronners bar or liquid soap on site.
The last bit of water usage is for showering. I’m able to get 2-3 showers out of each 4 gallon solar shower which works out to 1.5 gallons or less for each shower.
Of course I use far, far more than five gallons a day. My breakfast consisted of peanut butter, strawberry preserves, and bread. All the ingredients were grown with water, processed with water and packaged in glass or plastic that required water to manufacture. Those goods were transported to a store via trucks made of materials that required water in their manufacture on roads that required water in construction via gasoline or diesel fuel. I’m living in a cabin that is made of lumber and siding and roofing all of which required water for processing. The list goes on. The point is that the things we eat, live in and use on a daily basis have resource costs that we often don’t think about. Water is just one of them and one of the most important to consider right along side of oil.
Conservation, Ecology, Energy, Energy Conservation, Energy Crisis, Energy Shortage, Environment, Environmentalism, Living Simply, Permaculture, Self Reliance, Water, Fresh Water, Peak Oil
You know you are a total nerd when the highlight of your day is a brief rainstorm that fills your rain barrel half way. With the new (actually 20+ years old and re-used) gutter all the rain is now directed to the barrel and our five minutes of heavy rain just now filled it to half. Sweet. I can’t wait to get the others and hook them up into a proper series. I’d like to put in 10 but I may only be able to fit 8 or 9 which would still be a nice bit of water to have around. Given that this barrel would have filled in just 10 minutes I’d estimate that 8 barrels will easily fill in less than two hours with a fairly hard rain, much less if the rain were as heavy as what we just had. Maybe I need 20 barrels?
My expectations of a future shaped by climate change and peak energy is that we must become very efficient at harvesting and using/conserving fresh water. It seems to me that we can expect increasingly erratic weather with periods of extreme drought and wet far beyond what we’ve seen in the past. Combine that with the myriad issues related to agriculture and peak energy and you have lots of trouble in regards to a steady food supply.
If I can harvest and store 1650 gallons of water for use during drought then I will… guess I need 30 barrels!