Independence, Water Management

Innovative Water Management  – Part 2!

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how water flows in an urban setting. Now this thrilling sequel will show some of the solutions to water usage on the property scale such as our houses and businesses.

Most of us are aware of the regular water-saving solutions: there’s your low-flow toilets, faucets and shower-heads, as well as behavioral changes like taking shorter showers and doing laundry less often. But here are some ideas you maybe haven’t heard of before.

1. Composting Toilets

If you’ve ever been to an off-grid cabin, or visited any national parks you may have used a composting toilet. It’s considered an excellent alternative in any place you have a limited water supply or if building a septic tank is difficult / expensive. They often use electricity to heat the material and some sort of composting agent like sawdust or peat moss to facilitate aerobic decomposition to create compost.

Sun-Mar composting toilet
Sun-Mar composting toilet – a cute lil’ fella

I’d say it’s the better alternative to a traditional toilet, as you get nutrient-dense compost as a by-product! They’re not cheap though, a nice Sun-Mar toilet can go for upwards of $2,000.

2. Rainwater Harvesting

In its simplest and most common form, rainwater harvesting can be accomplished by just sticking a barrel under one of your eaves-trough down spouts to collect water for use in watering the yard. But of course, like everything, it can be taken to the next level.

An underground cistern – probably not your average Joe backyard model

I’ve spoken before about Earthships in a previous post; they have a concrete cistern (i.e. a giant underground holding tank) that collects enough rainwater from the roof to cover all the household water needs year-round!

But of course for you handy folks there’s great DIY ideas online. Check out Build-It-Solar for some awesome do-it-yourself rainwater projects. If you’re keen, you can connect all the above mentioned things together in some awesome garden/grey water/rain water super-combo like this:

A system for keeners

3. Grey Water Reuse

Does anyone else find it absolutely criminal that we flush 3 to 6 litres of clean drinking water down the drain every time we use the bathroom? Or that when we take a shower, that same clean tap water (also heated) hits our bodies once for a split second and goes straight to the sewer?

Well good news: grey water reuse tackles both of these silly practices. Grey water is regarded as ‘gently used water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs and washing machines.‘ In other words, mostly clean water that can be reused for purposes that don’t need crystal-clear water like flushing toilets or watering the lawn. Just as long as you use natural, biodegradable soaps and shampoos, mind you.


The set up can be a bit tricky, especially for existing homes. The easiest retrofit is to simply re-route the water from your shower or sinks to an outdoor tank, which can then be used for watering plants. A more challenging setup is sending that grey water from showers and sinks to an interior tank, which can then be pumped on-demand to the household toilets.

Back with more awesome water-saving techniques next week! STAY TUNED.

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