Friday, August 07, 2009

Me wannit…

Right now, my gray water collection goes like this:

1. Dip bucket into tub to fill

2. Heft bucket out to garden

3. Pour bucket of water onto garden (I use this mainly on the roses, trees and front lawn, not so much the veggies because I am [probably needlessly] anxious about having soap-flavored tomatoes)

4. Repeat…repeat…repeat…repeat…the bucket holds about two gallons (and I am somewhat girly, so that’s all I’d be willing to attempt anyway), and the average bath around here is forty gallons (but does often get two kids clean before being ‘recycled’ so I suppose I can’t complain too much) (except that I do anyway because, well, what fun would self-inflicted back pain be without the vigorous complaining?!)

5. Lie on couch and complain vigorously about sore back

6. Vehemently and indignantly reply, “Don’t you know we have a DROUGHT ON RIGHT NOW?!?!” when loved ones hesitantly bring up the possibility of NOT hauling 3,000 buckets of water out to the garden each day because seriously – who does that?!

But the truth is, I don’t collect nearly the water I could because yeah. My back hurts and it’s late and I don’t feel like it and then somebody pulls the plug in the tub because I didn’t get around to it and I would get all huffy except that I’m secretly relieved because gah, hauling that bucket is a pain in the neck. And back. And elbow. And shoulder. And, well, everywhere else, too.

While continuing to plan out the Greatly Expanded Garden Project, though, I recognize that I need to do better, sore back, bad attitude and laziness notwithstanding. California is (as usual) in a drought year. While we don’t have water rationing here in town (yet), it is my duty both civic and frugal to reduce how much water I suck out of the potable water system as much as possible, as soon as possible.

Because I am a tool user, I started thinking about better ways to do this.

The first thing that popped into my mind was something with, you know, wheels. Like, say, a smallish garbage can with wheels on it. I could put a few gallons at a time into that (because filling it all the way up would be too heavy for me to move, and would probably snap the wheels off the tote [which is not designed to carry water, but rather garbage that will be mostly loosely-packed things like packaging], which would then pour $DEITY only knows how many gallons of gray water all of my carpet), and roll it out to the garden…and then I’d get the water out again with, uh, well, let’s see, how do people do that gas-siphoning thing, maybe that would work…

And then I go wildly off-topic because I start thinking about gray water getting in my mouth and trying to decide which would be worse, gasoline or gray water. Not from a ‘taste’ perspective but a ‘germy’ one…let’s put it this way, I consider the gray water from Captain Adventure’s bath to be a two-hit wonder, kind of an all-in-one water recycling and composting adventure.

That boy loses about five pounds in dirt with every bath, I swear he does.

So today I started looking at the possibilities. Rubbermaid makes some nice things, and oh! Look at this rain barrel thing, yes, that might work, I could rig up a high-to-low flow thing from the wheeled totes to a rain barrel with a spigot that would then allow me to water things, although I might need a pump which would mean I’d need to actually filter the gray water which, you know, sigh, now we’re getting into the complicated and expensive stuff which is largely why my methods to date have been a bucket. Oh! And a small plastic cup I use to get those last bits into the bucket.

I know. My technological advances are stunning. A bucket! And a plastic cup! Whoa! Somebody call NASA, this girl is smokin’

BUT. As I was clicking through sites with $6,999 ‘whole garden rain and gray water collection Solutions’, I found…oooooooh, I found… the EnviroWaterBoy .

And then I went like this: “Ooooooooh! Aaaaaaaaaaah!!”

And then I spent $500 in my head. $400 for the 24-gallon unit, and $100 for the solar charges because people?

We have sun.

Lots and lots and lots of it.

Please to note that it has wheels. And a sprayer. And no plumbing skills required, can I get a ‘hallelujah’? Just dump the suction hose into the bathtub and it goes “slurp! slurp! slurp!” and sucks the water in, and then you wheel it out to your garden and it goes “sssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh!” with the sprayer and you can spray the water where you want it to go and I waaaaaaaannnniiiiiittttttttt.

And thus do I realize where my children get their Gimmies from, because I sound just like a five year old in the toy aisle of Target. Please? PLEASE?! PRETTY PLEASE! But I WANT IT! I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT GIMMIE! GIMMIE! GIMMIE!! NO! NOoooOOooooOoooOOOOOOO, we CAN’T LEAVE.


Obviously, I don’t get one. My petty cash at the moment is a whopping, uh, well…I think I’ve got twenty bucks in my wallet. We have had six solid months with one big ticket item or another hitting us for anywhere from $400 to $900.

I need a few months (or years) with minimal smack-downs to get us back on track.

I don’t get any $400 gray water solutions. {quivering pouty lip}

Oh well. The world is full of such things. I’d also like a $30,000 solar system on my roof and six more drum composters. I’d also like a well. And to annex a couple acres from the ranches behind me (think they’d notice if I just sort of pushed my fence out? Maybe only a few feet at a time?).


I’d really like one.


…but for now, I’ll settle for something water tight, with wheels…

…hmm, you know, actually? Maybe a wheeled cooler…one with a valve to let the melted ice out…wheel it out where you want it, open the valve, and walk away while it drains…hey, that has possibilities! Also, I think I already have one out in the shed...


Anonymous said...

How about a combo: wheeled mop bucket from a janitorial supply store, and a siphon set-up from an aquarium store. It wouldn't be such a big investment that you would feel bad up-grading next summer.

Kere the Knerd said...

Hee! Lots of things ran through my head here...

We're in a drought state here too, so no baths for us. Tough with kids, I know so maybe the siphon thing and the cooler thing would work.

You can put soapy water on your tomatoes and they won't taste like soap, but it will keep the aphids down!

Another cool thing we do here is since our washer is outside, we took the drain hose out of the waste water pipe, attached a 40 foot recycled pool hose (thanks freecycle!) to it and I just move the hose around the yard to water where ever we need it.

For recycling drums, we recycled some of those 3 gallon buckets that kitty litter comes in. I used a jigsaw to cut the bottoms out, leaving an edge of about 1 inch all around. I didn't drill out the sides, because the bottom is open. Then I dug out a shallow hole (about 3-4 inches deep), put the bucket in it, placed the dirt around the edges to hold it in, and filled it up. It takes my family (two of us) about 12 weeks to fill one. Then I start filling the next one, and just stir the first one every week or so until the comost is cooked.

Anyhoo! Best of luck with the gardening thing!

Anonymous said...

In order to reduce the amount of water going into our septic system, we had to "alteratively" drain our bathtub. We have three kids to bathe, so we were having to do this a lot.

We put a hose through the bathroom window and into the tub (must be positioned at the lowest possible point at the bottom of the tub for maximum benefit). The other end of the hose was connected to the outside water spigot. We would turn on the water (high volume) for just a minute, then stop it to create a backflow. Then quickly unscrew the hose from the spigot and drag it over to the rose bushes or hedges....and voila! The water drained out of the tub via the hose.

You will find this method much more practical than the bucket method.

My DH has since juryrigged the plumbing of the tub drain to water the roses/hedges via some PVC piping and soaker hoses.


Anonymous said...

Why do you need a hose to drain what ever container you use? Just tilt it. You could use a two wheeled cart(for moving boxes and such) and a garbage can straped to it and just pour some water wherever you need it. If weight is an issue enlist hubby or just redipper the water out of the garbage can. It would be faster than carrying each two gallon bucket out the door.

Lydee said...

lots of good ideas here, thanks!

knitinsage said...

how about a shop vac? it will suck the water out for you, has wheels, and then you can empty it using whichever method suits you best.

yes, it uses electricity, but since it does not generate heat, it wouldn't be much. and shop vac's are not that expensive, as i remember.

do tell about your solution! lots of great ideas in the comments!

Jen said...

I am in awe. And I feel lazy. :)

kimbobim said...

Does your bathroom have a window that you could run a siphon hose through - then you'd be able to avoid schleppig it through your house, sparing your back and carpets.

Also, instead of fancy composting drums, we built some bins using recycled pallets that we got for free off of Craigslist (there are lots of plans online). They hold a lot more than the rotating drums, end up with lots of good worm action coming up from the ground, and it was free! We don't even use our garbage disposal any more - just about everything (including meat scraps, etc.), goes to our chickens. Whatever the chickens don't eat (watermelon rinds, stems, etc.) gets thrown into the compost when we rake out their run. My kids think it's the most magical recycling trick ever - table scraps turn into eggs!

PipneyJane said...

Do you have a septic tank or are you on the sewage system? The reason I'm asking is that one of my sisters has a septic tank and theirs uses an "enviro-cycle" to disperse the grey water. It's connected to their garden sprinkler system.

Another thought (and a lot cheaper) is the solution my dad tried. Our washing machine emptied into the laundry sink. Dad inserted a funnel-device into the sink drain, after it exited the house, attached a soaker hose threaded that around the garden. When we used the washing machine, the sink would fill up a bit but otherwise it worked very efficiently. And no, it didn't affect the plants.

- Pam

Mary R. said...

Just thinking... Maybe lugging it is not the way to go.
Perhaps you could get an inexpensive pump (like those used to pump water off of a pool cover), attach a garden hose to it, run the hose out the window and there you go. For the initial outlay of the pump, you could save on a lot of ibuprofen for your back!

Anonymous said...

Well, assuming that the bath tub is higher than the garden, and the bathroom has a window, you can put the hose in the tub to completely fill the hose with water, then close off the end of the hose that goes out the window with out getting air in the hose, and lower it out the window. That will create the suction. It can be a little fiddly, but that is how I used to drain the kiddie pool on the deck. If you have a weight to hold the tub end of the hose at the bottom of the bathtub, it makes it more secure so you don't have start over halfway through. Good luck! Amy

Science PhD Mom said...

Ha! You sound like me with my kitchen scrap composter wish list. I need the composter, the one that is super rodent proof, and I need the cute little kitchen counter crock for scraps, plus the biodegradable liners, and what about the vermiculture option?? Yeah, and there you sit, $400 later in your mental shopping, and saying, "I cannot justify spending that much money on this!" Uh-huh. So been there. I hope you find some extra gravy money to buy your dream gray water system sometime soon. I am hoping for that composter as a Christmas present, can't go wrong with hoping!

yarnivorous said...

As a random Aussie passer-by, do you have access to the drain from the bath? In Oz, we have little caps that allow access to the innards of the pipes. We stick another pipe into it and slurp out some water. (We can get special diverters that stick into the drains or that create a junction in the drain for our grey water which are fantastic!) Otherwise the siphons seem the best way to go. Using washing machine water is great on the rinse cycle (and on the wash cycle with low sodium detergents).
I would never spray greywater on anything you want to eat or spray it on anything at all. Creating aerosols with greywater is a very bad idea. It does have some pathogens in it, even if it was used to wash your lovely, now clean, children. ;-) Apply it under mulch if possible and if not, just let it run from a hose or pipe. Don't let it run off your property - that's most likely illegal pretty much anywhere.
Have a look at this page:

Ladona said...

If the garden is at a lower elevation than the tub, you can just use gravity to siphon. I used to use this method for a waterbed, about a hundred years ago.

Place hose in water, kink, feed through window or dash through house to garden, gravity takes care of the rest.