IMG_20121205_164919It’s a common belief that using rainwater for irrigation in a Mediterranean climate is not practical, because most rains come in the winter and most usage comes in the dry summer. The argument is essentially that you can’t store enough water to irrigate for an entire summer. While this weather pattern is a problem, it doesn’t mean you can’t–or shouldn’t–use rainwater to irrigate. (more…)

Last year I had a pretty primitive system of rainwater collection and storage, just four garbage cans and five-gallon buckets for collecting rainwater. This year I’ve advanced considerably, with three rainwater catchment barrels in place and a fourth ready to be chained into the system. For more on this year’s new setup, see my earlier post, My rainwater catchment system. Now that I’m collecting more water, and collecting it on the lowest part of my property, I’ve been wanting to figure out a better system for using the water and moving it to where it is needed.

A friend came by a few weeks ago to see my setup and told me how he moves around his laundry grey water. He has a small pump, a Simer M40, that I liked because it has two hose bibs, making both input and output easy to use in the garden. I found one used on eBay and it arrived today. With warm weather the past week and wind on top of that, I needed to irrigate. Plus, we have a storm coming in next week and I want my catchment barrels to be empty and ready to collect more rainwater with the next storm.

So, I tested out the pump, both for irrigation and to empty out the barrels. The pump is small, so it doesn’t put out a lot of pressure. But, there is enough pressure to hook up my hose and water my plants. The real test came when I moved over two catchment barrels of water to garbage cans elsewhere in my yard. The pump was slow, taking 12 minutes to fill each garbage can and drain half of a catchment barrel. But, it worked and I was able to do other yard work while the transfer took place. I now have 130 gallons of water stored in garbage cans and will have capacity to collect another 260 gallons of water with the coming spring storms. I like this setup! I’m thinking I might even get another container, a 200 gallon surplus food container, to put under my front window, then I can store water to irrigate my front yard once or twice during the summer. The pump could be used to move rainwater from a collection site to that tank.

Last year I experimented with saving rainwater for irrigation. I bought four 32 gallon garbage cans and filled them up from five-gallon buckets I used as collectors. It worked, but was pretty inefficient, to say the least. However, at the end of the season, I noticed that my neighbors’ little one-stall garage, which backs up to the property line, drained into my yard. (more…)

I began saving water late in January 2009 to see how much water I could save by doing simple things like saving laundry rinse water and collecting my morning shower water while it warmed up. I also started saving rainwater in my five-gallon buckets. The results are in.

Some observations about my experiment:

  1. My biggest water savings came in two ways: a few large savings and many small savings. My largest source (44%) was from daily collection of about 1 gallon of shower water while the water warmed up. My second largest source (33%) was from laundry rinse water, collected five gallons at a time with a bucket in my laundry tub. So, it’s important to note that small savings do add up, and that it doesn’t require large “chunks” of water to save. (more…)