Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sustainable living: Tank water

The plumbers came yesterday to do the final stage in our project to get tank water connected to the house. Our two 7000 litre rain water tanks are now connected to a pump, some filters, and plumbed into the house water system. The tanks have a float switch which will switch us back to town water if the water in the tanks run too low. We can also manually switch back to town water if we want to, for example in Summer, if we are getting low on tank water, we might decide to use the tank water for the garden and the town water in the house (as rain water is better for the garden than town water). We don't have a flow meter on the tank system yet, but will be looking to get one soon so that we can still keep track of our water usage.

The Cunning Plans Dept did some calculations and reckons that based on our average rain fall and the collection area of the roof, tank water would be able to cover about half of our annual water usage.

Does it feel any different? Well the taste is definitely different. Rain water tastes much milder and doesn't have that slight chlorine after taste. The water pressure in the house is also less than we had with town water. This doesn't seem to be a problem, but I have noticed that obviously things like the washing machine take longer to fill. It does enforce less water usage in the shower! Also psychologically, I think being aware that you're using water from your own tank does make you think more about your water usage.

The next step will be to get the maximum usage out of our water and get a grey water system running under the backyard to water the trees and shrubs. And we'll also be looking at other ways we can reduce our overall water consumption so that tank water becomes a larger percentage of our total usage.This is the photo of us in our backyard, next to the vegie patch (with the two 7000 litre tanks on the right) that we submitted to the Alternative Technology Association's online event for the 350.org Global Day of Climate Action (this Saturday, 24th October). The ATA is aiming to get 350 photos of real people living sustainable lives. You can check out their gallery here. I like how the photos capture a wide range of things from big projects to small steps.

This saturday, if you're in the Wollongong area, why not check out the Waste Not! Vegie Swap at the Wollongong Community Garden and pop into Futureworld Eco-Technology Centre in Warrawong.


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