Our move from New England to Southern California brings the issue of water usage to the forefront. Water conservation in Boston isn’t nearly the issue it is here in San Diego. It is amazing that so many here take for granted the diminishing source of water that is brought from the Colorado river 250 miles away. The politics of water is huge and too complex to discuss here but an excellent and fascinating read on the subject is Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition by Marc Reisner from Amazon. This book is still very timely and is one of the best books written on the subject.
Southern California is in a near-drought state after 1 year of record low rains so we are looking into ways to save on water use. It amazes me how much water is used and then “discarded” by simply washing your hands, showering, clothes or dishwashing. Naturally you want to think about ways to reuse this “greywater”, if more people were able to reuse this “greywater” for flushing toilets and/or watering lawns and gardens it would result in a significant savings of water.
For home owners with the money available to install new rewater systems in their home there exists some terrific but pricy solutions, the ReWater system captures, filters and reuses shower, tub, bathroom sink, and laundry water, 50% of all water used inside a residence. This can then be ReWater’s under or above ground drip irrigation systems which are claimed to be at least 30% and up to 60% more efficient than sprinklers. The pricing will vary significantly on several factors but you could expect to pay several thousand for both the filter and irrigation systems.
Sadly, we don’t have that kind of cash and only rent our place. But there are still some options that range from free to affordable. One approach, offered by GreyWater Guerrillas shows how to simply remove the piping under your sink and let it drain into a bucket that you can then pour into your toilet tank to flush with (or water plants, etc) They also put out a book “Dam Nation Dispatches from the Water Underground” that they discuss on their website and have many other resources on water issues.
The bucket under the sink definitely won’t fly with my wife although my dog is cool with it. A more elegant solution that does somewhat the same thing is the Aqus, that helps you capture and reuse sink water to flush toilets. They claim their technology can save 10 – 20 gallons of water a day. The Ecogeek blog has a good article about this system here.
Another possibility to save on bathroom water use is offered from Caroma, an Australian toilet maker’s Profile toilet suite that directly convert your toilet tank into a sink. A more basic and affordable possibility is the Toilet Lid Sink from Peddler’s Wagon for only $89.00.
Treehugger’s excellent article, “How to Green Your Water” is another great place for more info on saving water at home.