Frugal water...

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Well, being in a drought has forced us to go very frugal with our well water consumption. It has went low/dried up already this year. No rain to speak of here in Midlands SC.
So, I have taken to re-capture gray water for garden, washing, and bath. It is the only water my veggies(some), herbs (some), and flowers(less) will get till we get some rain. Yesterday, I tried the handwashing of the dirty laundry outside in my 5 gal bucket collection. I only used the washer to spin dry them to hang on the line. It worked pretty good. And, as my gardens will only get recaptured graywater right now. Alot of our gardens, get nothing. There is no way to get them all water. We just have to watch them all dry up.

Virginia Beach, VA

i really feel for you to watch your plants go dry. We live near a very deep man made lake and so our well is a blessing. We have a 130 foot well and the water does not contain lots of minerals. We only use it to water the yard.

Our daughter who lives in Alabama has 3 water barrels and she saves all her gray water like you do. She flushes her toilet once a day unless they do #2.LOL!! It is a way of life.


Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

I have always been But, we are having to go all the way right now. Would you believe, this whole place, all of 6 buildings, has not 1 inch of rain gutter?!! Omg Now, it was all resided with nice vinyl siding, about 2002...when they built the new addition. But, nobody put gutter anywhere. :( We have to start from scratch on that.
Our well. We don't know the capacity on it yet, or the depth. The little metal tag that was put on the side is in the wrong spot to be able to see it. Sideways, backwards, on the back, on and over the piping.
I am using the chicken water to water my potted plants. It only has some chicken dirt and a few droppings in it. I can't seem t o be able to keep their little butts away from their fresh water dispensers. Even though we have suspended them from chains. I am just concerned the greywater is too strong for the potted ones. Not getting any rain to dilute the soaps etc.

Does anybody out there have any ideas on how to store alot of water on a 1 acre piece of land? We are looking at building some rain water cisterns, but still have to do the gutters first.

Thumbnail by moxies_garden
Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

This is after we got done cutting all the foundation overgrowths. Took us 3 solid weeks of hacking and cutting, just to lay it all down. Then we had to haul it to the brush piles out back.

Thumbnail by moxies_garden
Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I'm on a well and it furnishes 3 homes so I have to be careful with my water. I purposely selected drought tolerant plants and have forced water loving plants to be drought tolerant by weaning them off water. I do not water my gardens, and my entire yard is a garden. We just can't afford to run out of water, so we don't wash our cars at home or waste water. Our summers are usually hot and dry too.

I've been thinking about setting up an elaborate rain barrel system to catch the spring water, which is in abundance. I've seen some rain barrels that were painted to blend in with the gardens, so you couldn't really tell it was a flower garden unless you got close.

There was a guy on our local Craigslist selling 55 gallon drums with lids for $10. I haven't seen him lately, but when I'm ready to tackle the task, I'll post an ad looking for the barrels.

After a 3 month drought, we finally got a 10 minute shower a couple days ago. Of course we NEED more, but we mostly get thunderstorms with no rain. That's just so freaky and disappointing--lots of thunder and lightning and not a drop of rain.

Virginia Beach, VA

There is a dish soap that is from natural stuff which our daughter uses. Check your grocery store for it. It should be okay for plants. I consider ourself lucky then because we get a lot of rain so our garden and lawn are lush.


Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

I know it is a challenge. When I lived in Cuba, on the Navy base....for 2 years..we had to be frugal with the water. They only get water if they make their own, desalinization plant. I have practiced that version of water conservation for many years now. I just have to find new ways to recapture/save/recycle water here and now.
We don't wash our cars here.....had used limited water on the garden....but none now. If they dry up and die, then so be it. The water I do use in the garden beds is gray water only....and not all of it. My next step is to do the research on cost effective mulches. I have newspapers...bunches of it. Limited supply of sawdust and shavings. But, I want to use it for the chickens. I don't want to spend $$ on mulch, as we only are on the one income here, fiance`s job.
We will hve to spend X amount of $$ on guttering. Not one bit here...not even any previously removed laying around. Will have to start from scratch.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I follow the sound of chain saws on Saturday mornings looking for people chipping wood. They are always very happy to dump the truckfull in my driveway. Of course it takes me awhile to move a dumptruck load a bucketfull at a time. By the time I get to the bottom of the pile - it is compost. :)

Watch your local craigslist and group - someone may be offering gutters for free that they removed from their house and replaced.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

craigslist and freecycle have been in my bookmarks for ages!!..especially since I move alot...or.....some. Always getting rid of things, looking for things. Oh, and some of my, mom, sisters....are hoarders. I have never wanted to go that route, so always deleting items from my little corner of my world. :)

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

I also only wash the dishes once a day. By hand. No dishwasher. I had a brand new one, but left it at the other place when I moved my stuff here. And, using dish detergent, I use thew new Dawn Hand Pump, but diluted by 1/2 with water. It pumps and cleans just as well. I have even diluted it more than that.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

My favorite topic. I've always been sensitive to water conservation. Without water, there will be no life. Everyone regardless of where they live should be aware of their water consumption.

We are currently in serious drought and now on mandatory water restrictions. We are in the 15% of the state that provides for the rest of the state. I'd say TX is in trouble.
Here natural springs and shallow wells have dried up. We still have water (fading fast) in our pond and I'm fascinated to watch the wildlife getting braver as it is their only water source.

Moxies_garden ~ you can use rain barrels without gutters. One good rain of an inch or two would fill a barrel. I have done that for years until DH decided I needed gutters. I hate them... more work to keep them clean.

I've learned that when there is springtime pollen, you want to let the gutters flush the pollen. If you save that water (I do) it gets funky smelling. The pollen sours but the plants don't care. I put fiberglass screen on the barrel tops. It keeps trash, kitties and mosquitoes out of it. You could use a light coat of cooking oil but I really don't want to add that to the plants. I've found chopped up garlic tends to repel also but...
Get some barrels, buckets, tubs, containers in position and pray for rain. When desperate for water, they don't even have to be pretty. In the past when our electricity has been out for extended times, we've used it to flush and to draw pails of water to wash up in. I keep jugs of drinking water but the rain barrel is great for other needs too.

I've found to be cautious with what soap you use and what you water edible plants with. It may not kill your plants but they can take up the taste of the soap in the leaves/fruits.

I am off to work today but will revisit your 'frugal water' thread. Thanks for starting it... pod

(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

I have started giving my dogs their baths out in the yard like in the "old days".. boy did they hate that but at least the water was not wasted.. it bathed the dogs and watered the yard. I kept moving to different spots for each dog. I had the hose laid out in the sun so as it was off between each short rinse burst, the sun warmed the water in the hose. It actually conserves water because when I wash them inside I can't turn the water off and on like the sprayer head does on the hose end. They are also very thankful that they are getting fewer baths! I also have decided I don't need to take a shower if I have just spent 20 minutes sitting in my Jacuzzi!

I keep the water in the Jacuzzi carefully balanced and don't change it as often as recommended... I only change it if the balance gets off and I can't correct it.. which is actually rare. Then I use the water for the yard.

Now, how do I manage to save the water from showers and water the yard???? I learned the art of 'short showers' when I took live aboard dive trips years ago and the small boat had to make its own fresh water for the week. We had to be very careful with how much water we used.

A dishpan in the sink works great for washing dishes through the day and a quick rinse to get the soap off.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

No jacuzzi here. We have a shower, but don't use it as no venting is in the bathroom. Therefore, we take baths, and don't fill the tub all the way. I take my bath water out to the gardens.
The dishes, I keep and use the dishpan. Rinse off the dirty ones just a little, through the day, and save the main wash for after supper. It is just myself here during the day, so I can keep the sink pretty empty.
No pets to bathe, and we don't wash the trucks here. I usually only wash mine 2 or 3x a year anyway. And right now, not working, my milage is kept down to about 350 a month.
I don't water the lawn. I never did, except if I was starting new seed. But, that is not very often. I am going to make a greywater filter for the really sudsy washes,.....the dishes and the laundry loads. Then, that water can be used on the gardens. I am alternating it around for now.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Podster- I went and bought 5 more 32 gal. rubbermaid trashcans....they were on sale at HD for 1/3 off...tee hee(that's another thread)...anyway.....3 went out to the 3 places left around the house I could possibly collect rainwater from. Most are under eaves where 2 roofs join together in a valley. Now, we did have to invest in a small portable pump, to access the rain barrels. We will use the water for laundry, chickens and that order. All the things we really hate to be using drinkable well water for. For inside, I am re-using greywater for toilet flushing....and kitchen greywater for my flower and herb gardens.
The one best place so far for collecting rain without the gutters....a valley in the back corner of the house. We got 1/5 inch rain the other day...and that barrel had 15 gallons in it. The rest are meager. But every drop helps.
I had to do the laundry I had to pull well water for it. But, I am now using something called Soapnuts....and have been recycling the wash/rinse waters. So, 60 gallons does 3 or more loads, instead of using the 60 for each load. We will use the laundry wash/rinse water this weekend to hose out the chicken tractor also. The soapnuts are non-toxic....and the water will be just great for washing down chicken poo from the wire flooring in it.
I plan on getting every use possible out of a drop of water, before I put it on the gardens. We need rain sooooo badly, and Irene looks like it will entirely miss SC. :(

Thumbnail by moxies_garden
Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Your mention of using greywater to flush reminds me of a product I saw ~ wishing I had saved the link. It was a container that the bathroom sink drained into. There was a small electric pump that would put the water from that container into the commode tank so it could be reused to flush with.

You know, I grew up with water conservation awareness. We had a large family (9 kids) and a large old farmhouse. It had a large, underground concrete cistern that caught rainwater. It was pumped to a holding tank in the basement and pumped through the house when needed.

We were conscious of not using too much water, taking shallow baths once a week, washing up during weeknights in an enamel foot tub. My Dad built an outside shower with a large, elevated barrel that was painted black to heat the water. We filled it from an ice cold spring.
Great fun to play in as kids and I'd love something similar today.

I have heard of soapnuts and seen them in catalogues but never used them. My mother used a spinner/washer similar to the old wringer washer. She would start by washing a load of white clothing, then washing more loads reusing the water in order of color down to the darkest or dirtiest clothes. Then rinsing in the same manner before spinning and hanging out.

We had a spring for drinking water and would carry 5 gallons of drinking water in pails to the house daily unless Mom was canning. Then we toted more.

So I guess I am always aware of water consumption or waste.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Podster-hello again!! I wasn't raised in that severe of circumstances as a child...but my dad is very alot I learned, I learned from him. Then, I went on to be a Navy Seabee wife. Ex didn't make much as it was...more frugal. Then, the 2 yrs spent in GTMO navy base...where they have to make their own water and elec from sea water. More frugal.

Now, this is just a culmination of years of info...gathered up for future use. I guess, the "future use" is here. :)

I have made use of the 5 gallon buckets from HD etc...and collect the greywater from the bathroom in it all day. We "yellow-mellow"...and I flush the commode with it before he gets home. Saves my days usage of flush water. It is a teency bathroom, so I have maybe 4 feet to carry the bucket.

The other grey, is all going to plants. And, as of yesterday...I will no longer use well water for laundry. Hmm..I wonder what plan C will be...(?)

This is the laundry room, before we worked on it last summer. I have my 32 gallon trashcans on each side now.

Thumbnail by moxies_garden
Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Gawd.....I wish we could get some rain from Irene.....or copy/paste us a spring here on this property. The closes water I think is a creek, 3 miles to the east of us. No way to get water here. No way to get on a city water line either.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

In this area we are so dry, many shallow wells and springs have dried up. They are trying to put in rural water systems but those won't be ready for a while. I don't think I want to get on one anyway.

There is gas well drilling in this area and they are using a phenominal amount of 'much needed' water. Part of me wants to resent that but part of me sees the need.

Today, DH scored three 250 gallon containers which we will use for rainwater harvesting. Once they are in place, I will be hoping for rain.

These days with water being scarce, I talk to many people and those that have worked or lived overseas say it is amazing to hear how valued water is and how carefully they use it compared to how we squander it in the US.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Update: We got rain!! Lee was kind enough to drop off 1 1/10" last now, I have 240 gallons of rainwater in barrels. I did lose one though...used a square blue container. It proved to be too weak for the weight of the water pushing against the sides. It was filled to the brim last night, when we looked..but was empty this morning. Not sure what happened either. I didn't see any cracks.

I can at least forgo the greywater usage for a while. This place and well needed the rain soo very badly.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Excellent! Glad for you. I am hoping the wind won't dry your soil out too quickly after that rain.

I would suspect under the weight of water your container has a fine crack that opened up. You might test it by putting a small amount of water in it and monitor it. If it holds a small amount, add more and so on.

Glad you were able to harvest more water also.

Virginia Beach, VA

I am so happy for you that you got rain and able to save some.


Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Hello again. Yes, we got 240 gallons. We weren't sure about the container that cracked, as it was sevral yrs old anyways, and had some UV damage. But, ya don't know till ya try. All we could do is try.
Now, I have enough water to hopefully get me through the month..with laundry, plants, chickens. So far so good...if we keep our fingers and toes all crossed. :)
I went outside and covered all the full trashcans with the covers that came with them. They should stay cleaner that way. I plan on using up the open ones first.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

If you wish to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the open containers, pick up a cheap roll of fiberglass screen material in the automotive dept at Wmart. Easy to cut pieces of this screen to cover the containers. It will keep the mosquitoes out of it.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

podster...did that I screened the top of the containers to keep out the larger debris from the roofs. And now the leaves are falling. We also have little lizards ...and, they need to be kept out. I went in the hothouse about 3 weeks ago..and found a floater in one of my water buckets. A mouse had fell in and drowned overnight. I am finding that mice are to be expected around here, especially now with the chicken feed on the property. When we got here, there were just dead mice..and the place had been empty for 3 yrs. No people, no food.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes... I've found two mice within one week in a 5 gallon pail of water. I think they are looking for water (we are so dry) and fall in and can't get out.

In years past, I'd find an occasional floating mouse in a dog water pail and figured the cats had flung it there but now I'm not so sure. lol

I have a friend that had a chicken hop up on his rainbarrel and fall in. Fortunately it didn't drown, he was nearby. He has since screened it.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Yes...I went and bought the rolls of cheap screen fabric and topped them all out...using bungees. I now can do some more things with the water. It will be time for transplanting/ that fall is here.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Here is the pump set up that DH made for me to use the rainwater. All I have to do is take the pump around to the rain barrels, put the hose in the bottom of the barrel, put the outflow hose wherever it needs to be, and plug in the pump. I did 2 loads of my towels/rags this morning. I did choose to use the hot water for the wash, and added the bleach, detergent, and 20 mule team borax. Then, I emptied that into the 32 gallon trash can to re-use for the rags. I used the rinse water from the rain water barrels. Added the vinegar to the rinse. I then emptied the rinse water back in the other trash can to re-use for the rags rinsing. I didn't use the bleach water for greywater usage on the plants. Bleach/borax/detergent is too harsh. I let it drain in the back ditch.
I was at least able to use a 2nd rainwater rinse on the rags...not using well water for any rinsing. So, total, I only used the original 30 gallons of hot water/well water...from the hot water heater. The rest was rain water. They are all line drying nicely at the moment. 50% humidity. I shouldn't have to do another towel/rag laundry wash for 6 more weeks.

Thumbnail by moxies_garden
Virginia Beach, VA

Bleach evaporates if let it seat for a couple of hours so you can use them for plants.


Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

True, but I use the heavy duty wash for the towels etc. It would take more than a couple of hours to dissipate. I just use the regular rinse waters for the plants. And only do towels/washcloths once every 6 weeks.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

pod, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned hugelkultur beds, and terraces/swales here for water conservation!

I water my garden from a pump in the spring overflow, but water levels are way down both in my spring and in the creek in front of the house. Not intentionally, I am putting in a partial greywater system but if the water levels keep dropping it will be very necessary for the garden.

Our plumbing drains and vents were not well designed, and lately running the washing machine causes some back-up into one bathtub and the kitchen (just greywater, not blackwater!). (I've run the snake through the lines; it clears it a bit but the poor design is still a major factor.) I'm now in the process of taking the washer drain off the line. It will run into a drywell in the yard for now, but I plan to run it eventually into a series of very small, shallow ponds planted appropriately to filter the water (maybe the last one with fish). Swales will carry it from pond to pond, and eventually to the garden.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from darius :
pod, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned hugelkultur beds, and terraces/swales here for water conservation!

I know I am that bad, so try to temper my exuberance ~ LOL

I will link this for anyone who might be interested...

I am amazed at how few folks are willing to learn anything from this extended drought we have endured!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sad commentary, isn't it?

While I'm not in the extreme drought area, I can see the handwriting on the wall. The world-wide view is that the next wars will be fought over water!

All I can do is start to change how I think about water conservation. Thankfully my cost will be almost all effort, not money.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Oh..educate me please!! I even dream of this stuff while I sleep.

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