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Recycle your water

When it comes to conserving natural resources, water conservation is arguably the most important issue. On the surface this may seem to be a falsehood. After all, the earth is covered 2/3 with water. But did you know that only 1% of that water is available for human consumption? The rest exists either as salt water, or as ice.

In reality, very little of the earth’s water is fit for consumption. If we factor in the water sources that are contaminated by pollutants and toxic compounds, the amount of consumable water is actually even less than 1%.  With many areas of the globe experiencing long term draught, and the earth’s population reaching 7 billion as of October 2011, the demands placed on this water supply are enormous. Therefore it is extremely important to take steps in our own lives to conserve water however we can.

There are lots of little things we can do around our homes. Install water-efficient faucets and toilets, take shorter showers, ensure that faucets don’t drip, don’t brush our teeth or do dishes with the water running, make sure the washing machine and dishwasher are full before running a cycle, limit water use on lawns and gardens during summer months, etc.  The US EPA has many water conservation tips in their web site.

In addition to limiting our water use, we can actually recycle water.  How? By capturing stormwater before it reaches the storm drains. Large volumes of storm water run off rooftops and pavement during rain events. Homeowners can capture this runoff from their houses by placing rain barrels beneath their down spouts.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is nothing more than a large container, typically of the 55 gallon variety, with a screen on top to let water in and keep insects and debris out, an overflow hose and a spigot to dispense water from the barrel. When it rains, the runoff flows into the barrel where it is stored for later use on lawns, vegetable and flower gardens, house plants or even to wash your car.

What are the advantages of rain barrels?

A rain barrel can save the typical family 1300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. That’s 1300 gallons of water that the homeowner doesn pay to treat or deliver to the home via the municipal water supply.

Lawn and garden use typically make up 40% of household water consumption during the summer months. A rain barrel can provide most if not all of that supply…for free!

A rain barrel provides ‘soft’ water which is free of chlorine, lime and calcium, so it’s appropriate for a wide variety of uses and it’s even safe for pets.

Where can I purchase a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is easily constructed from parts available at your local hardware store. If you want to be a super recycler you can repurpose a plastic or metal drum (metal will rust, but this is not a concern if you only plan on using the water on your vegetation), or even a wooden wine cask. But there are also many ready-made options available.  A few examples:

The Fiskars 58 Gallon Rain Barrel.
The Suncast 50 Gallon Rain Barrel.
Gardeners Supply Deluxe Rain Barrel.
The Sterling Rain Wizard 50 gallon rain barrel.
The Achla Designs 54 Gallon Rain Barrel.
The Smart Solar 60 Gallon Collapsable Rain Barrel which can be folded and put in storage when not in use.

Some manufacturers also produce large capacity rain collection systerns for commercial use.

You should also check with your local government offices. As part of their environmental education and outreach programs many of them now hold special rain barrel sales or keep a supply on hand, and these are usually sold at a discounted rate.

For more information on water conservation and rain barrel use, visit the EPA’s website.

Conserve Water & Save Money - Eartheasy.com

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 14, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

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One Trackback

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