Thursday, January 8, 2009

Water conservation

It seems we are facing another winter without too much rain, and again, people are talking about a water crisis in Israel.

"The authority plans to continue drilling for water, reopen old wells and prohibit the watering of lawns."

As a matter of fact, according to the Water Authority website, watering of all gardens is already prohibited (link in Hebrew) starting from November 1-st. To my knowledge, such regulations have been toothless until today, but it seems that this time authorities are determined to enforce the law.

I completely agree about the prohibition of watering of decorative lawns. People who already invested a lot of money in their lawns are complaining about the possibility of the lawn dying, but I really think it's a minor concern right now. With our water resources dwindling, we simply cannot afford such a luxury. Personally, I wouldn't spend money on maintaining a lawn anyway - water isn't just a valuable, scarce resource, it's also expensive. Right now, during winter, our yard is covered in wild-growing plants (also known as weeds). In the summer, the land will be mostly bare and that's OK.

However, I believe that the prohibition of watering gardens is too vague and fails to mention an important clause: people who grow vegetables and fruit for their domestic use in their private gardens, thus producing some of their food and working towards sustainability. Such people usually not only aren't wasteful, but do everything in their power to conserve resources. But of course, some over-zealous official might wage war against vegetable patches as well.

As long as it isn't specifically mentioned that watering edible plants is allowed, watering the radishes you planted in your back yard makes you a law-breaker.

Right now, we do minimal watering in our garden. We use mostly the surplus of water we save, such as cold water from showers, and even from ritual hand washing. We also manage to save some rain water in a few large buckets, and plan to add a rain water tank in the future. On rainy days, if we run out of containers, some of the collected water can be recycled for domestic use - such as washing floors, flushing the toilet, and hand-washing.

Even if your authorities don't have strict water regulations, conserving water is an environmentally conscious thing to do, and it will save you money.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I live in Australia. We have quite severe water restrictions at the moment, and it looks like they're here to stay. Sprinklers are completely banned. The only way to water the garden is to fill a bucket or watering can at the tap - except for 4 hours a week, when you can use a drip system or hand-held spray.

So yes, growing a vegetable garden is extremely difficult. It's not a good system for conserving water - not very fair. For example my neighbour on the left is a frail elderly widow who loves to garden, but has had to watch her garden die over past years due to lack of water. My neighbours on the other side have a swimming pool with no cover (illegal to have no cover, actually) and they have pool parties all summer. It seems very unfair.

But I completely support water conservation and am happy to do it myself. Now in late pregnancy myself, I can no longer carry heavy buckets of water around the garden or from the bathtub to the garden. Also, we have nappies going through the wash and therefore can't hook up a greywater system from the washing machine.

Good luck Anna!

Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

There have been strict watering limits in my parents area for many years now, due to a drought that seems to never want to end. Right now, edible plants can still be watered, but for everything else, water cannot be used outside at all. Saving water from the washing machine, dishwashing, showers, and so on are how my parents have opted to water their garden & flush the toilet, and us too when we're living in this area. No sense in wasting water when the plants don't mind!

Sadly, many people and businesses break the rules and have lush green lawns. Many of the big mega churches in the area included. In the state just next door, where the drought in markedly worse, there are people who can't use their water all day--even indoors--yet these places feel it their right to water the lawn. It's just outrageous to me and to many others. Several people I know finally become so disturbed by this that they called the authorities on various places. What do you know, by the end of the summer I was told many of the green lawns had turned brown. ;o)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Good point about the private swimming pools! Better wage war on such excessive luxuries than on a few tomato plants.

Anonymous said...

If you cannot empty the dishwater or laundry water on the garden vegetables, what must be done with that water? We have had a bit of rain here of late but are still under drought conditions.
Mrs. L.

A. said...

In the summer, some US towns implement an alternate-day watering allowance to conserve water. I never really thought about water conservation until I started my own garden last summer. Watering at dawn and dusk, and carefully watering the roots instead of the entire plant, worked for me. I was amazed, however, to see neighbors watering at noon when the water is soon evaporated. Forget conservation - did we fall asleep in elementary school science?

I don't have a lawn, but I've always admired the "wild" look instead of a perfectly manicured yard. Much more interesting! If I had a lawn, I'd experiment with moss, which doesn't require much water at all.

Allison

Lori said...

Anna, I quite agree about water conservation, which is good since I had some good habits before moving to a drought-stricken area. We, too have alternate day water programming, and are allowed to water food gardens. Non-regulation watering is allowed when used with documented private well, gray, or rain water. I catch the cold water as I wait for hot water to come through for washing, but how do you get the shower water to the garden? Do you have a gray water system, or is there a bath drain going straight outside? Tips appreciated. Australia reader: when you've had your baby and have regained your strength, would it be possible to arrange to drain your washer into a utility sink? Then you can put to hose in a bucket when you wash teh diapers and put that water directly in the toilet. I'm quite jealous about your graywater system. If anyone has links about retro-fitting a house for graywater (with little money) I would much appreciate it! Thank you.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Lori, I'm afraid we're very primitive in our water thrift around here. We just use buckets.

Gothelittle Rose said...

I've got a sort of interesting 'reverse situation' here. Our well is deep, but our water table is high, and the nearby large pond-and-wetland never dries out.

Thanks to that, in the summertime sometimes we practice conservation by using more water. Since the well is private (on our land and connected to our house only) and the only cost is the periodic hum of the well pump (no meter), it costs much less money to take a cool shower in the heat of the day than it does to run the electricity-hungry air conditioner for long enough to keep us cool. We rarely have water shortages in the summer, but electrical grid overloads are common enough that we must watch what devices we run at what times of day.

Granted, it's not as if we splurge all over the place.. a sprinkler in the yard or a watergun fight will cool the people it includes while watering the lawn, which rarely needs watering beyond the rain we receive anyways. But since we have a septic system with a leachfield, wastewater is never technically 'wasted' as it purifies naturally over several years and ends up right in our well again.

I think it's very important for people in water-scarce places to conserve. I guess I just wanted to mention that it's not world-wide universal, and what works in some areas is counter-intuitive in others! :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Naturally, I was addressing people who live in areas where water is scarce to some degree. :o)

Miss Rose Virginia said...

I live in California, where, like in Israel, it rains mostly in the winter. When we lived in the mountains, we had a strict watering schedule that we had to follow, but ever since we moved to Sonoma County, the only people talking about water conservation are environmentalists at the college. The county apparently doesn't have a watering schedule.

Anyway, I agree that conserving water is very good for the environment since little of the water on earth is drinkable.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

We have water shortages around here, too, although it's not desperate yet. The silliest thing is that there's a law against collecting rain water because it will interfere with the runoff--evidently that belongs to the people who hold the water rights. Weird.

Lori said...

Mrs. Moredecai - Shocking!

Mrs. Anna T said...

I'm surprised too! Someone trying to monopolize rain water??

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

Maybe you can help me. I'm a 16 year old girl who is engaged. I look forward to being a wife and a mom. My fiance and I would like to get married and start a family soon. I feel that I have gotten as much as I'm going to get from high school and would rather get married and start keeping my own house. My parents are thinking I should finish school. Can you give me some ideas to help them see my point of view? Thanks!
ps. my fiance is 20, with a good job.

laura

Neuropoet said...

Wow - it's so strange to read about so many different places in the world right now in drought conditions since here we are dealing with major flooding! :) This past week a road near my mother's house actually ended up on the news because it had become a river - and it's never done that before in the history of the town! It was unbelievable... The water is going down now, but the road is a mess... It's amazing how water can be such a big influence in our lives!

~Jenny

Mrs. Anna T said...

Hi Laura! I believe it wouldn't be right to directly rebel against your parents' wishes, and if they insist you absolutely must finish highschool before getting married, it would be better to do that.

However, it is possible to try and gently show your point of view and why you think it's a good idea for you to get married right now. How specifically you would do that depends on the dynamics between you and your parents, what and how you have discussed so far, their point of view and how they argument it, and so on. It's difficult for me to say anything specific, since I don't really know you or your parents.

If you haven't checked it out already, here's a lovely blog from my sidebar I think you would find interesting to read:
http://unlessthelord.blogspot.com/
It's written by a sweet lady whose daughter is engaged to be married at the age of 16, with her parents' consent and blessing.

You might find the following post especially interesting:
http://unlessthelord.blogspot.com/2008/11/too-young.html

You are also always welcome to email me privately, though my reply might be a bit delayed as we're expecting a baby any day now.

Bethany Hudson said...

Yikes! I remember going through this when my family lived in California for a time. Of course, pretty much everyone broke the law there. *sigh* Meanwhile, here in Washington State, we are suffering from record flooding! If only we could airmail you some of our water!!
~Bethany

Zoe said...

I'm going to be away from computers for a few days. If that baby isn't here by the time I get back, we're going to have WORDS (as my momma would say).

Sherry said...

Time for a rock garden? Actually, when done right, these can be very attractive. It's important to plant native plants, which are well adapted to grow in you area. These will handle extremes in temperature & water levels better than exotics (plants not native to your region).

Erik said...

In Colorado some of those measures you just mentioned, like collecting rainwater, is actually illegal. Personally I think it is dumb, but there are treaties governing our water for the states downstream. To some extent I understand, but when one sees how much water is wasted in places like Las Vegas it makes me unsympathetic to their demands for water.

Here in Colorado we are moving towards decorative rock yards (for the front at least) but in Vegas where they get much less rain they have bluegrass gardens and the casinos have acres of open water, one of which sprays it into the air as water shows.

Has said...

Mrs Mordecai, in which region do you live? I'm shocked by what you say about rain water!

Lori, great suggestion! I don't know of any good websites on grey water systems but they're very popular in Australia so you're sure to find some good information eventually.

Viv said...

I'm pretty happy that we are having a relatively wet summer, after last years drought. We would be without water if it were like last year, as the cost of everything has gone up, and I doubt we could afford to buy water in.

We do have grey water recycling set up from the washing machine, and I can divert the water to the drains if I'm doing a nappy load, but so far haven't needed to use the grey water yet, our bore seems to be okay for now, no telling when it will dry up though.

I do think it's much more important to water veges, than any lawn. Our lawn dies off in summer, but as long as the veges are growing it's all good.

Ann'Re @ Home said...

Our area of Indiana has been experiencing flooding for the past couple years. Even so, we are planning on adding a rain barrel or two this spring to help us be more frugal with our water. We do have a lawn, but it's kinda scruffy...not manicured like some of our neighbors. Seems silly to invest so much time, money, water etc. into something with very little return on your investment. I'd rather dig up the yard and turn in into one big garden! lol

Lovely blog, Anna. Glad I found it!

The Pilgrim Pundit said...

Mrs.T,
The rain catchment is an excellent idea. We have friends in the arid region of Texas U.S., that have no well and the entire community of 10 families uses rain catchment for their mainstay. They actually use a variety of commercial filtering devices to turn it into potable water. You can have fairly good drinking water with the use of charcoal if you can get any. Many old homesteaders here used to build large resevoirs above ground to catch the water and let it simply leach through a 'wall' of charcoal in the center of the container and 'presto', filtered drinking water. Just a thought. Also, Colorado,US, prohibits any catching of rain with a large fine against the property if caught. Crazy world! We pray for your family and for the ongoing situation there.
Robert and Christy

Anonymous said...

Laura, have you discussed with your parents the possibility of your getting your GED instead of completing traditional school?

lady jane said...

Our property has less and less grass as the years go by. Bit by bit we're replacing lawn with drought-resistant plants that are both lovely and useful.

Scrapqueen said...

We just got over our two year drought...with all of our rain coming in one month. Now we have a flooding problem. Sigh, never a happy medium. Are you familiar with Home Owners Associations? They are common in newer neighborhoods here in the States. When a town enforces water restrictions such as only being able to water certain days a week and at certain hours these HOA's will literally fine people for their grass dying. They actually urge people to break city water ordinances, which in itself is illegal. And you know what? The city does nothing about HOA's that do this. Absolutely crazy.

Kristi said...

Hi Anna,
I noticed on your "baby counter" that you are due any day. How exciting! I hope your labor is wonderful and soon. :-)

Andrea said...

As diverting as the topic is, I find my eyes are glued to that pregnancy ticker at the top of the screen!! ;) Thinking of and praying for your soon-to-expand little family, Anna :)

Anonymous said...

I second the idea of discussing the GED with your parents. This is what my cousin did and it worked out well in their situation.

Mrs T, are there any specifics to announcing a birth according to your faith, such as when you announced your pregnancy? Just curious. Of course, I think a long pause in a new post from you will give us all a hint :-)

Shannon said...

I wonder if Anna has had her baby? Hmmm.....

Anonymous said...

Laura.
Finish school. You'll see it was the right thing to do in the future to come.