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How I Became Pro-Irrigation--and did it without using any municipal water, during a dry spell  RSS feed

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Well, it's not really irrigation but I was previously trying not to water at all, and it just didn't work so well; then I compromised and used the hose, but felt irritated about it and it's fluoride and chlorine (as chlormonine, can't evaporate it out even).

So what is my big discovery? air conditioner water and dehumidifier water!!! this is such a great hack! gaming the city requires using its own wastefulness against it, and I see no good reason for an air conditioner in theory but others make their decisions and I can live--symbiotically--with them.

I had six buckets of water to use today. I watered my learning garden, the side garden, the berry patches, the 2 pawpaws and 2 hazelnuts, the compost bins, and the tomato volunteer.

Two of them were from the dehumidifier from today. Two were from a/c yesterday and today (I keep a bucket near that I can transfer the water into so I don't have to water during the day, I can save it for nightfall so there's less sun evaporation). Two were from rain water--I put a bucket (homer paint bucket) under the drain pipe. I don't have an actual rain barrel, so I make do with that. I have a littler bucket for scooping out into another bucket so I can leave the one under the drain pipe, it's awkward to move it. And then a trash barrel nearby for transfer. It also caught a little rain, but not much.

So, the score was rain: 2 human distillation: 4.

That water has zero fluoride, zero chlorine.

Now, wouldn't it be better to drink it? well, no, it's not ideal drinking water. You really need some mineral content. And we could get into the whole topic of whether drinking water at all is the way to go, Weston A Price websiite says they drank cemented drinks more, like mild beers or kefirs or stuff like that. Mineral content in the water at the least is desirable, according to Schauberger. Ideal drinking water would be spring water. If you're not going to do that, then filtering the fluoride out of the municipal water is the way to go, that's what we do here.

As for the plants and soil, distilled water is more or less what rain water is, as far as I can tell. The soil is holding its mineral content, as long as it's not getting too much runoff (and a permaculture design ensures that there's decent soaking in, decent soil crumb structure soaks in).

I just feel like such a rich man with my free water supply! I'm gonna spoil my garden rotten from here on out.

Also, I asked a source I trust about whether distilled water is within the range of balance with nature for watering the garden, it seemed fine. That gave me the level of comfort I needed to go ahead with this.

As a bonus, I never never ever ever felt like emptying the dehumidifier, it was a loathsome task to me, and I probably never really got around to it so other people had to do it (sorry). But now! I look forward to it! I told my housemates to just pour it into a bucket and leave it for me if they are emptying, so they don't have to go water the garden themselves or wait till nightfall.

other thoughts:
* don't try to use an old busted up bucket, it'll probably break and lose some of your precious water. water is heavy. treat it to a decent bucket.
* fluoride-free is better for the worms in a compost bin, according to someone on this site I believe it was. I can believe it.
* a dehumidifier puts out a consistent amount of water each day. so even if it doesn't rain for a water, you have a steady supply of like 1-2 buckets (I think that's somewhere between 3-8 gallons) a day of water
* an a/c will generate less consistently, but when it's really hot (and plants need the water most) it'll put out 1-2 gallons/day.
* buckets with _handles_ are an ingenious invention. the person who invented that is a saint.
* I was just so de-motivated with the hose, but this is how my motivation works, when there's a resource that I want to steward and not waste I have more energy to work with it, even if it takes half an hour.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I wish I'd thought of this back in the spring!!!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Oh, also the water is $free! municipal water was costing us like $5 a day some days last year when I had a drip irrigation set up. I could of course combine, but where to put the big ugly barrel that would drip from...? more to ponder.

boston sewer commission: "The average one family customer using 180 gallons per day ("GPD") in 2015 will be charged $84.30 per 31-day month or $992.56 annually."

Consumption Water Rates Sewer Rates
(Cu.Ft./Day) Per 1000 Cubic Feet Per 1000 Gallons Per 1000 Cubic Feet Per 1000 Gallons
First 19 $49.00 $6.550 $63.43 $8.480

I think this means that the first 19 cu feet cost 6.550 per 1000 gallons, or $.007/gallon.

I also think our hose faucet had leaked last year, and my blind housemate didn't see the leak. But we saved both water and sewage charges (didn't know we got charged for our sewage usage--that's good!)
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Crap, they might have lead solder in the dehumidifier:

http://www.permies.com/t/38350/composting/Compost-tea-dehumidifier-water

the amount of lead getting into the water (cold water) should be negligible.

Why wasn't this world designed by permaculturists??
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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If you are this committed to save that little bit from the dehumidifier and AC, are you doing anything with greywater? Rainwater catchment? There are plenty of resources on both on this site and elsewhere....and plenty of opportunities to safely use both to encourage your systems....
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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lead seems to be a trivial concern; it doesn't touch that long at all, and anyway municipal water probably has more lead in it.

What's of more concern is lack of dissolved O2 in the water. So, it may need to be shaken up or poured back and forth a few times (but I already did that many times just out of necessity for transport).

on this site I was on some people had houseplants or trees die that they watered with dehumidifier water (vs. rainwater); I think the only difference is that the rain has been condensed at a much higher altitude and has a long time to have o2 dissolve in it as it falls. Since this is free water anyway, I have less compunction about watering from a height and letting it rub up against air a lot and even evaporate some, vs. if it were water I was paying for and taking from the water supply.

Any thoughts?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks Alder. I'd love to use the greywater, but it's a) got all that fluoride and chloromine in it that it had when it came out of the tap and b) isn't already in a bucket or container, it's in the sink or the shower where I'd have to scoop it into a bucket. And people use different body care and hair care products, some of which may have some toxic chemicals. Body care, hair care, and my share: the three ethics of capitalism. Hm, I think I"m onto something there. But I digress. Yeah, I'd love to use the gray water too but I dot have an actual gray water processing system, don't I have to go all John Todd on that and make something with reeds and fish and stuff? Plus the plumbing part seems less convenient than taking the buckets of water that are already starting in a container.

Also the amount of soap in the dishwater and bathwater would seem to bar it from use directly around plants or in the compost (would kill microbes?). But is it the soap or the heat in the water that actually kills microbes?

Alder Burns wrote:If you are this committed to save that little bit from the dehumidifier and AC, are you doing anything with greywater? Rainwater catchment? There are plenty of resources on both on this site and elsewhere....and plenty of opportunities to safely use both to encourage your systems....
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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maybe snowball is smarter than we are--always wanting her water fresh from the tap....
 
Dale Hodgins
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Posts: 6144
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I'm with Alder on this. The work per unit of water, seems excessive. The quantity of grey water available is much greater.

See if you can choose the majority of cleaning products for the home. There are many safe products.

Get a rain barrel or cistern. If you're in a rental, it would probably be best to go cheap on infrastructure.

Mulch.

Stories like yours remind me that I chose the right piece of rural land. There's water.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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OK but what about the fluoride issue? this is city water. any inexpensive ways to sequester fluoride?? and chlorine?
 
Blake Wheeler
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Location: Kentucky 6b
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Would running the gray water through an artificial "wetland" possibly help to remove the fluoride and chloride (chloromine)? Use species like cat tails, reeds etc. to help filter the water possibly.

EDIT: a quick google search showed a plant called Tulsi (Holy Basil) was shown to remove fluoride from water. Took concentrations in test samples down from 7 ppm to 1ppm. It's native to India, so that might prove an issue, but perhaps it can be grown annually?
 
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