Fighting the Drought in California - Grey Water | Organizing Made Fun: Fighting the Drought in California - Grey Water

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fighting the Drought in California - Grey Water

{More organizing posts coming soon, but I want to share 
with you about a project we are working on in our home}

Having lived in California my whole life, I've learned the words "water conservation" and "drought" many times here. It's something I remember my parents talking to us kids about when I grew up in Northern California. I remember that we only flushed after going "number 2", otherwise, you just left it in there and flushed at the end of the day so we wouldn't waste water. We couldn't run the water while brushing our teeth. It didn't seem horrible - just being careful with water. Now I live in Southern California, where we have even less rain than Northern California, and a drier climate. This year, they are saying is the worst drought in recorded history in the state of California - which may not bother you, but guess what? You probably get a LOT of your food from California. So, our decision to "go native" and plant a drought tolerant front yard couldn't have come at a better time! But, we've recently discovered something else - grey water. Do you know what that is?

Drought Tolerant Front Yard Landscape ::

Grey water is the water that comes from your washing machine, kitchen sink drain, bathroom sink drain, or showers and bathtub drains. It's not sewage, just dirty water. {Go HERE to see more information about that}. Plants can handle grey water - alongside regular watering. I wouldn't recommend it for an edible garden {unless you have set up a very careful system that doesn't touch any fruits/veggies}, but it works great for our front yard plants and potted plants.

In order to use your grey water, you MUST NOT use bleach or other chemicals in your laundry. I have been using all natural, non-toxic cleaners in our laundry for years - see HERE for how I do laundry - as you must ONLY use non-toxic cleaners or your plants will DIE. Below is a list of non-toxic laundry cleaners I currently use or have used in the past. Many are at Target, Costco, or other grocery stores. I have posted a link for each of them where it's listed below:

Non-Toxic Laundry - for using in a grey water system that waters your plants ::

Here are what I recommend from personal use:

So, for me, it was super easy to try out the water from the washing machine. I noticed that there was a LOT of water coming out and going down the drain when we are living with such a drought and little rain. How can I let that water go to waste? I took the water and tested it out on my front yard plants. Since we just planted them, not all of them have established enough yet to be consider "drought resistant" which can take a year or two. So, there are a few that are a little droopy when we can't water so much - we are only allowed to water Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays before 9 AM or after 6 PM. Strict, but necessary. We are also not allowed to water for more than 15 minutes each zone - which is WAY too much for us. We only water about 5-7 minutes per zone maximum. 

How Saving Your Grey Water Can Help Sustain Your Landscape ::

We have set up a simple clothes washer system set up where a garden hose carries out the water to our rain barrel or we can use a bucket. In California, a simple system without a permit is permissible. Go HERE to see more ideas on how to set up a grey water system with your washing machine. There are rules and compliances that you'll have to look into for your region. 

Rain Barrel used for grey water to water front yard landscape ::

There are ways to have a permitted system set up so that all the drain water from everywhere goes into a piping system and spread in your yard. But, we're just going to keep it simple for us now. We're probably as green as you can get when it comes to our house -- solar panels, blown insulation in our walls, drought tolerant front yard, and now a grey water "system"! Believe me, we're FINALLY seeing a HUGE difference in our water and power bill. I just wish we could get our sewer charge reduced...that may take some doing!

Using Grey Water to Grow Your Landscape ::

I did NOT realize how much water was coming out of my washing machine rinse cycle. Would you believe that our 50 gallon rain barrel filled up after TWO loads of laundry? Not kidding...I attempted to empty it. After what seemed like 50 buckets of water that I hauled back and forth to my front yard, I gave up. It was nearly 100 degrees here on the day I did this and I was hot and sweaty from dragging the water. I did two more small loads...and it was overflowing again. Can you believe that? I estimate about 100 gallons of grey water in just our laundry day - and that's just my hubby and I and our towels. My kids have a separate laundry day for each one and two small loads each on their own. Wow!! That's a LOT of water! 

Just to show you we are saving water, let me give you a run down of our water usage for the last three years.

Average Daily Water Usage {for September}: 

2012 - 807 gallons per day
2013 - 426 gallons per day {we shut all our front landscape water off completely when we were ripping out the grass}
2014 - 347 gallons per day {we are using the front yard sprinklers with our new drought tolerant planting but only on the limited days per week for 7 minutes each zone}

Can you believe the difference in daily water useage in JUST changing our front yard sprinklers because we no longer have grass? THIS is where much of our water goes. You don't have to have brown grass and weeds to have a beautiful landscape that doesn't cost a fortune to keep - we've proven that! And, our front yard has NOT suffered one bit! Look at the growth of our plants in the last six months, above. Amazing, really! It's thriving! Have you ever thought about how you can save water or energy in your home? Where do you live and what is something that is an energy drain in your area?

Pin It

 **I have a few affiliate links in this post - this does not mean you pay a dime more for the product when you purchase through my link. It just means I made it easier for you to find what you might like, so I make a few cents if you purchase. I SO SO SO appreciate when you support Organizing Made Fun. Thank you!!**  Like what you see here? Consider becoming a follower or subscribe via email! 

Are you an Organized Reader? I'd love to see your organized space. Email me HERE and show me your space to possibly be featured as one of my Organized Readers. 

  Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Check
Connect with me:
Follow OrganizeMadeFun on Twitter Follow Me on Pinterest
Google Plus for OMF beckyb_omf Bloglovin’ OMF OMF Facebook page