|The Magic Water Fairy|
|Where Does It Go?|
Then I moved to New England (a good thing), where a large percentage of households are on private Well and private Sewer systems and you need to be aware of these systems, as without them, you're up a creek or shit out of luck (puns intended.)
|5 Gallon Solar Shower|
Then last Sunday I woke to the sound of a high pitched alarm. Well, turns out this was the Septic System pump alarm (ironically, it was on the agenda to be pumped anyway). A call to the Septic people and an appointment was made for the next day. But, in the meantime I needed to deal with the here and now and what to do for the next 24 hours.
"Ok," I thought, "this should be easy peasy. For the next 24 hours while I wait for the Septic to get pumped, just make sure not to let any water go down the drain. Shower - check. I have the solar shower already set up outside (and I can still use the outdoor hose), Cooking and washing dishes - check. It's only 24 hours and the few cups and plates I have can be washed outside. Laundry, check - that can wait." My biggest challenge would be where to go to the bathroom. Fortunately the neighbors are great people and they said "me casa you casa." That's all fine an dandy during the day. However, I'm one of those who doesn't like to wake the neighbors during the middle of the night (if you get my drift).
|5 Gallon - Loo|
I need say no more about that crap. Other than I'm grateful it would only be for only 24 hours.
Later that day as my friend and I were discussing the events over the last couple of weeks we commented on the "water that isn't from the toilet" and "how much of it is used in a household and is just passed down the drain and basically wasted." Why isn't this water re-purposed so it doesn't go into the septic system or city sewer? I realized that there is more to this "greywater" story and not all house holdwater is safe to just water the plants with, and that the two of us are not going to solve the worlds problems that afternoon, but I did want to learn more about it (great topic eh!) as I realize every state has it's own regulations for greywater. For now I'm curious about "how much water am I using and how does that compare with the average person?" My water bill comes quarterly and they bill a minimum amount unless you go over so it really doesn't tell me how much or where I'm using the water.
Out come the measuring cups, deep pots and sprayer hose from the sink.
2 Cups- waiting for water to heat up -
Used this water to sponge bath - yes it was cold, the left over water I used to water a plant
2 Cups hotter water additionally to finish washing with
1/2 Cup water to brush and rinse my teeth (they are real teeth)
6 Cups getting hair wet in order to wash it- Shoulder length hair over the kitchen sink sucks, but I had to do it- wish I could have gotten a picture of that with my head basically in the bucket using the sprayer.
I used Dr Bonners soap to wash my hair,then used the water I'd rinsed my head with to rinse out the liquid soap.
8 Cups additional warm water to fully rinse my hair after washing - what was left I used to water outdoor plants with
Total About a Gallon of Water - A GALLON! Nonsense you say! Well, remember I was being very conservative with the water as I wanted to see what it would take to get the job done. Doing this little exercise, I realized that you really don't need a lot of water to take care of business, and I guess that's the whole point - We Take Our Water for Granted - We let the water run in the shower or fill the tub up.. while it all trickles away down the drain. So much waste.
When I got home that day I went online and googled a few things and found out some interesting stats on individual water usage (Click for details) .
|How Much Water Do You Use?|
Estimates vary, but "reports say that on average each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day." On the low side that's 29,200 gallons per person per year .
Well, as my little exercise showed, when you have to you can get by on a whole lot less than what you normally use when you're not really thinking about it. I figured that If I added 3 loads of laundry a week (which at 25 gallons would be 75 gallons /7 = 11 gallons per day), and dishes (using their estimate of 8 gallons per day) to my numbers that would be about 20 gallons per day - Again this is the water that when used goes down the drain and does NOT include Toilet flushing (which estimates show the average flush is 3 gallons-multiply that by the number times per day)
Below is a list of those activities and what the average person uses per day below. If you just look at Bathing/Faucet/Laundry/Hand washing dishes you'll be surprised at the daily/annual usage. Imagine what this number is for an entire town?
Shower - 16 Gallons - Water Saving Showers use about 2 Gallons per minute (say avg shower 8 min)
Bath - About 36 Gallons for full tub
Brushing Teeth - 1 Gallon
Washing Your Face - 1 Gallon
Face/Leg Shaving - 1 Gallon
Dishwasher - 6 to 16 Gallons (newer models less)
Dishwashing by Hand - 8-25 Gallons
Cloths Washer - 25 Gallons (newer models)
This is water that you use and what's left goes JUST GOES DOWN THE DRAIN and into your Septic system or town sewer. This is "grey water".
Add all the other sources of water usage and it adds up.....
Just for shits and giggles - HOW much water using the LOW side average of 80 gallons per day per person do our our local towns use?
Portsmouth, NH = Population 21,366 =1,709,280 gallons If everyone used 8 gallons less per day that would be a savings of 170,920 gallons per day or 62,389,085 million gallons per year