Thursday, 28 March 2013

Water ... the source of all life!

As we live off grid all our water comes from rainfall. We have a system that feeds into tanks from the roof of the house. It all works brilliantly and in one rainfall we can collect up to 10,000 litres (if it rains hard enough!)

When we bought the house we thought that 60,000litres of water was a lot. It is a lot in the short term, but not when your trying to grow fruits and vegetables and live a normal life!
After the first nine months of living here, visitors and watering through the summer we had to pay for a water delivery as we were running out. 10,000 = 90 euros. We realised that we had to become very careful with our water if we didn't want to fork out for more deliveries!

We were already watering our plants with the washing up water. We had to think of new ways to cut our water consumption and save every drop that we used to water our plants.

One of our main culprits for using water was the toilet. We decided to try to find a compost toilet that would not use water at all and help us with improving the soil in the garden.
This was what we bought. It is actually really good. The stench pipe runs up the wall and out at the top of the wall. It has no smell with it at all. I would highly recommend this to anyone thinking of living off grid.

Next was the washing machine. We used to collect the water from the washing but the automatic was playing up anyway. We think it has something to do with being off grid and electronics but not sure. Anyway we decided to buy a twin tub.

This way I could control all of the water going in and out. We have 25l plastic containers to collect the water in. For a weekly wash we have the use-age down to about 200 litres...not bad for a weeks washing. This is watered down with clean water and then is used to water the vegetables. Depending on how many beds we have planted this water can last 4 days.

Next we considered collecting all the water from the showers. Again the 25 l containers come in very handy for this. We dug holes in the garden and ran pipes to it. We place one of the containers under the pipe to collect the water. We have boards over the top to cover the hole. We have worked out about 3 or 4 minutes in the shower and the container is full. People who come to visit are not too impressed with this idea. As they are used to standing in the shower for 20 minutes or more. But they all try and by the end of their stay they are normally managing easily to shower in this time!
Kev had built himself a workshop and the roof of this produced runoff too in the rain. He placed drain pipe along the back and into the blue water butts that are all connected. Once full a larger piece of drain pipe is added that runs straight into the water store.
Once we had the pool built, we needed to clean it. Every so often the filter needs cleaning out and this uses water. So we got a 1000 litre container to back wash the filter into.

We then wait for the dirt to settle out and pump it back into the pool. We estimate that we have saved about 3000 litres of water since starting this. We used to put it into the water butts and leave it for the chlorine to be evaporated  and then water the plants. Trouble with this was we had to keep topping up the pool. The first year we had the pool we had 4 water far this year we have had none!

Now the only water we waste is in the normal toilet. We have kept it for those too squeamish to use the compost one. Although it is only used for visitors now!