This blog will be discussing how we apply the permaculture principles of 'Produce no waste' and 'Use and value renewables' when it comes to water. It's permaculture, but it's also just good sense!
It’s time to talk water!
In our state, NSW, we have recently come into Level 2 water restrictions because of the rapid rate of decline in dam levels due to the drought. This means only watering with a bucket at approved times and drip irrigation for only 15minutes per day in approved times.
Personally I think we should have water restriction all the time. We are the driest continent on the planet as far as rainfall AND we’re in the midst of a devastating drought. Yet we waste massive amounts of water.
It is estimated that, in a home with mid-efficiency appliances, Australians produce 121L of wastewater per person per day.
Essentially we should all be acting as if we are on tank water. Most houses who only live on tank water are far more careful about their usage than us connected to town water. They know it’s finite. Thing is, us ‘townies’ are no different. Our water supply is finite too, it’s just a massive ‘tank’ called the Warragamba Dam (for lower Blue Mountains and Sydney, the Cascade Dam system for upper Blue Mountains) that we share with 5 million other people.
So let’s talk Collection, Conservation, and Re-use
Collect rainwater in tanks
Collect rainwater in the soil and into plants for growth
Collect greywater from your home
Buckets Buckets Buckets
A bucket in the sink to catch handwashing water and rinsing water.
A bucket in the shower
A bucket for bath water
A bucket to catch the run off from your washing machine.
All of this captured grey water can be used to water the garden.
Drip irrigate leafy veg, or pour over thick mulch to leaf zone (not over leaves)
The key to all this is using greywater safe /biodegradable cleaning products and soaps.
Ask at your local health food shop. Our Co-op in katoomba has some great ones.
The water that comes out of our taps is exceptionally clean. The water that flushes our toilets is, arguably, too clean for that function. So use only what you need.
Have short showers. A short shower (under 10mins) usually uses less water than your average bath. And only have 1 a day (or less!)
If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.
Do full loads of washing, mix colours and white, towels even, go crazy man. Only wash what needs washing - if it doesn't look or smell dirty, it ain't dirty.
Update your appliances to water efficient ones. Your water bill will thank you too!
Make your garden water smart – mulch thickly, drip irrigate, and plant appropriate species for your climate so they don’t need inappropriate amounts of water.
Most of the water that we send down the drain and into the ocean is perfectly good for the garden or other household uses (like soaking clothes or dishes or flushing the toilet)
Depending on certain factors, a garden bed may need 6-20L per day per square metre.
Now if you want to install a proper greywater filtration system, it will dispense with some buckets and save you a lot of time in carting water outside. It will also improve the quality of the grey water. That’s another blog.