June 10, 2006

The green h2o-me.

I know what it is like to have hit that glass bottom in water conservation. You do what you can. Our apartment is an old 80 year old three story house on the middle level with original plumbing, so taps either leak a little or have to be turned off really tightly. This is a plus for the bathroom hot taps so the little one can't turn it on himself and risk scalding. He's the only one who bathes, in 8 inches of water, so about a quarter full. I estimate about 50 litres (13.2 gallons).

I used to recycle his used bathwater by gravity-fed siphoning it well into the garden via a long hose otherwise left hanging through the bathroom window bars. I was pretty chuffed with this but in the middle of planning improvements at the garden end to the concept we became aware of being struck by the scourge of Sydney, rising damp. A forced shower renovation over-turned that project, and now the little one has taken to farewelling his 50 litres on its way to Sydney Harbour. He had been delighted with the previous arrangement ever since he first understood how the garden being watered and feels that Nemo and his dad already have all the water they needs.

We installed a water efficient shower head that can set the plumbing system off screaming like an alarm when the pressure is up to far. My wife doesn't use it's efficiency settings but can finish her shower inside a commercial break most mornings, and in a flash when she is running late. I like a 15 minute one but now do it hopping around under the heated trickle most mornings to distribute the warmth evenly between shoulder-blades and upper and lower back. It's winter and I am showering to warm up. I get reminded of the makeshift winter bush camping showers of my youth, and other camping trips. I need my 15 minutes, I won't relinquish them. At a flow of say, three litres (0.8 gallons) per minute my 15 minutes uses 45 litres (11.8 gallons) a day for my ritual shower. I would not be surprised if my wife's water consumption here was 20 litres or less.

I am sure I am the only one who flushes the toilet less when it's reasonable, only slightly depressing the button to dilute to suit although, because I do the toilet training, I am inculcating my boy to be conscientious. Learn 'em when they are young.

In accordance with bucket-not-hose council water restrictions, bath water will also be recycled to wash the car, infrequently as is the case, usually it goes to the carwash bloke in Randwick who keeps recycling his water, and I'll scrub the wheels myself on return. Needing to improve the bucket system, I started saving our empty 1 liter PVC plastic water bottles to collect the used bath water whenever the car started looking dirty. I've done it on occasion but nothing has 'stuck' yet. The sticking point is storage space for the bottles. The missus wants them out of sight and no suitable (handy) storage space has been scoped for the DA.

The dishwasher is for storage. She considers using automatic dishwashers to wash dishes as lazy and overruled my defense that the dishwasher has eco-cycle and a low energy rating. I'm the greenie, I'm dubbed dishwasher! I reckon, what, 10 to 20 litres a day?

The washing machine water consumption I could not even begin to guess at. Not my job although I get roped in to hang the clothing out to dry. My wife thinks it's ridiculous that people with options still use drying machines in our climate. Here we can both agree.

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