As you know, we are not on town water or sewage, so we have to manage our water use very carefully. We have 3 22000 L water tanks that collect water from the roof of our house and our shed, and our waste water drains into a large underground septic tank, which has to be emptied every few years. We use all our bath and washing machine water on the garden. We built a system to drain the grey water into a drum under the house and then pump that up to the garden, this would be even better if the garden was downhill from the house and the water could just gravity feed straight to the garden. Using the grey water on the garden means that we don't fill up the septic tank so quickly, and we always have plenty of water for the garden.
Three water tanks (about 22000 L)|
for our drinking water and the chickens
When I moved from the city, I thought I was pretty careful with water, but its amazing how wasteful I still was, because I never had to worry about running out of water. Having our water set up like this leads to some strange behaviour. For example, if it rains and tanks are full and overflowing, we put on a load of washing :) When the garden is getting dry, I also try to find a load of washing. We also become ultra conservative when the tanks are getting low, and this becomes kind of normal until we have people come to visit and we realise that we are a bit strange:
- We only flush the toilet when really necessary (not good when you have surprise visitors! and not good when I nearly forget to flush public toilets!)
- We only do the washing up once a day at the most. We did have a problem with ants getting into the dirty dishes, but we solved that my leaving the water in the second sink and stacking all the dirty plates under the water so the ants can't get them (In Australia it is common to use two sinks, the first one with the detergent and the second to rinse).
- We have very short showers (I don't even know how people use 4 minutes!) or very shallow baths
- We only wash clothes when they are really dirty. I wear the same "farm clothes" - jeans and shirt - for afternoon chores all week, I wear the same work uniform - jeans and shirt again - all week and then I have clean inside clothes that I wear all week too. If I do go out into town in nice clothes, they usually get put away again unless they are dirty. Farmer Pete wears overalls to work because work washes them, so that saves heaps of dirty work clothes.
- We only wash towels and sheets when they are really dirty. I used to wash all towels and sheets once a week, but when we got really low on water and were trying to get away with only one wash a week, that was something that we decided we could stretch out longer, clean sheets are a real treat now!
- We don't wash things with water unless they really need it - like the house, the car, the veranda, they only get washed if they are really dirty, and then only with a pressure cleaner, which uses less water overall.