Conserving Water During A Drought

Right now my state is under a burn ban, and water restrictions are in place in most communities. Although we are in the rural area, and not under such a strict watering restriction like those in town are, we are feeling the effects of the drought. Our main source of water is rural water, which is more expensive than what they pay in town for water. (In town they can no longer wash cars, water lawns, or fill swimming pools).


There are two types of waste water. You have your black water (toilet water) and grey water (sink and shower water).

Black water generally can not be recycled, but you can make the most of your grey water. Grey water (from your sinks, clothes washer, shower, and bath tub) can be captured and reused in several ways.

Grey water that contains a lot of detergents or bleach can be used to water your foundation (recommended in extreme drought conditions to prevent cracking and settling of the house). It can also be used to flush a toilet or wash a car. It should NOT be used to water plants as heavy detergents and bleach can kill them.

Grey water without heavy detergents can be captured and used to water plants, gardens, flush the toilet, and more.

One easy way is to do your dishes in dishpans (a canner or large bowls work great also) set inside your sink. When finished, you can use the water to then mop your kitchen floor, wipe down tables and counters, give the dog a bath, flush toilets, and wash the car with it. Rinse water from one batch of dish washing can also be used as part of the soapy water for the next batch of dish washing, or dumped into the clothes washer for the next load of laundry.


If you are under a severe water restriction, take a short shower or shallow bath, and wash your hair in the sink. That generally uses less water as the water isn't left running as when we shower.

Container gardening and raised bed gardening do not require as much water as a traditional ground garden bed.

By using some of the above methods, our water bill has only gone up a few dollars despite having to water animals and 11 raised garden beds for the past 3 months of no rain.

Don't forget your animals should always have clean fresh water available at all times, especially during severe heat and drought conditions.

By mom-from-missouri from NW, MO

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August 4, 20121 found this helpful
Top Comment

Capture shower or sink water that runs while you are waiting for it to get hot and use it to water plants, fill pet water dishes, flush toilets, etc. I also capture water used to wash fruit and produce.


I just wash them over a bowl or pitcher and again use that to water for my garden, etc. Every drop counts! We have done this for years here in AZ where water conservation is a way of life 24/7!

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful

Thanks for the informative tip. I'll try to find the time and energy to do all that. I do take GI showers, basicaly get wet, turn off the water. Shampoo, get all soapy, then turn on the water, and rinse off. I would shower with a friend but I dont want to see my 60 something year old friends naked.

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful

I disagree with the statement on container gardening. Plants in containers dry out faster and have to be watered more often.

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful

In addition I have washed my laundry in the rinse water I would just capture it in several 5 gal. buckets and pour it back into the washer for the next load and dirty washer water went to the garden I do not use harsh detergents or bleach.


I also siphoned the bath water to the garden I drilled a small hole in the wall and bought a 10 ft. section of 2/1in. tubing instead of having to redo my plumbing, instead of flush every time I only flush solids and I use a 1 gal. bucket instead of the holding tank. If you mow your yard at a higher setting it will stay green longer because it will shad the soil so it doesn't dry out as fast.

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August 5, 20120 found this helpful

Thanks to all for the suggestions; these are steps we all should take, in order to conserve the precious and limited clean water. I lived "in the wild" for some time, and I collected rainwater for my bath; bathed and washed my hair in about 2-and-a-half gallons of water. Those were the "good old days"!

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August 6, 20120 found this helpful

RE: Conserving Water.
Great tips! Thank You!
I agree with raised veggie beds requiring less water than ground planted veggies. I planted in pots this year and 2 re-cycle tubs. The tubs are small raised beds and made of plastic so they have indeed needed less water.


Of course, mulching conserves water as well, whether ground or pots or raised beds. I shred junk mail for mulch.

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August 7, 20120 found this helpful

I can see possibly watering the garden with gray water, but then mopping your floor with dirty dish water sounds like it would create more problems. Such as bugs and a dirty smelling house.

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