Level III drought conditions

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Hi, I live in eastern Ontario (Canada). In the latest edition of our local newspaper they told us that we were at a Level III drought condition & that we were to conserve water. My question to all of you especially you folks who have or live with this on an ongoing basis is what specifically should we be doing? Are their guidelines for drought conditions. They also said that The Old Farmers Almanac is predicting a low amount of snowfall for this winter. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Blessings, Jan

-- Jan Sears (jcsears@magma.ca), September 14, 2001


Hi Jan, I live in Southern California, and there are many things you can do to conserve water. I will probably forget to mention some of them, but here's what I can think of offhand:

1. If you don't have a low-flush toilet then a simple thing like putting a brick in the tank will save quite a bit of water, especially if there are many people in your household.

2. While you are brushing your teeth or soaping your hair, turn the water off --don't let it run the entire time.

3. When you turn the hot water tap on, collect the water in a bucket while it comes to the correct temperature, and use that for watering plants or pouring into the washing machine as it fills.

4. If possible, collect the water that runs out of the washing machine, dishwasher and bathtubs and use it for irrigation.

5. Let your lawn go dormant.

6. When planting, mulch heavily or plant so that no soil is exposed to the drying effects of the wind and sun. And plant in groups of similar watering needs so that you don't have to water a large area just to accomodate the "thirsties".

7. In cases of severe drought, when the government is regulating water, or at least asking for every effort to conserve, then let the thirsties do without, and replant if necessary when water is more abundant.

8. When we have big droughts we are asked to take "4 minute showers", which, believe me, promote efficient showering in a big way!

I can't think of more just now, but there are lots more things you can do. I'm sure other frugal homesteaders will have great tips. Good luck, and I hope you don't have too many prize rosebushes!

-- Leslie A. (lesliea@home.com), September 14, 2001.

Get a solar shower bag. Mine came from Cabelas and is far superior to my last one. You fill it with about 3 gal of cold water and set it in the sun for a few hours and there is plenty to wash hair, condition hair and shower. I never replaced my old water heater when it went. In the winter I just fill it with heated water from the stove, saves a ton of $$

-- Dianne (yankeeterrier@hotmail.com), September 15, 2001.

Wash your hair first, in the hand-basin (and only an inch or so depth). Have a couple of inches of water available in a bucket to rinse (particularly eyes - some of the water you've used running the shower hot) if you need to. Now wet yourself in the shower (low volume - scarcely more than a trickle), using rinse from your hair to wash yourself. Turn the shower off; rub with soap or shampoo or gel. Turn shower on again and rinse. You can sponge-wash thoroughly in half a gallon, not including your hair; or another quart for your hair. Not saying you want to do it all the time, although it's perfectly effective, but it's probably a good idea to learn how, so you can get closer in normal times. Fitting a hand-held shower-rose is a BIG help.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), September 15, 2001.

With all due respect to Leslie, let me suggest that instead of a brick in your toilet tank (which can cause brick particles to interfere with your tank guts) use a soda bottle filled with sand with the top screwed on tight. This displaces the water the same as a brick would but with no floating bits.

When wishing dishes, fill a dishpan with just enough hot water to cover the bottom of the pan. Then rinse your dishes with just a trickle of water (over the dishpan, obviously) to get the soap off. When finished, dump the dishpan into your flowers. The soapy water fights off bugs and the organic debris in the water fertilizes your plants.

Place a large water bottle in the refrigerator for cold water anytime without having to run the faucet too long.

Place a five gallon bucket in your shower to collect "run off" for watering plants.

Wishing you enough.

-- Trevilians (aka Dianne in Mass) (Trevilians@mediaone.net), September 15, 2001.

I'm in Ky-we've had drought conditions on and off several years-this year was pretty decent, but we've locked into water conservation. All the above tips are good-I also suggest the soda bottle instead of the brick. (We now actually have a low flush toilet) A couple more ideas-If you have small children, you can bath them in the same bath water-together or seperatly depending on the children. Often, we skip a daily shower/bath filling in with a sponge bath on off days. (Interestingly enough, I have read reports from peditricians and other doctors saying it was not good to shower/bathe everyday anyway it stripped the skin of natural oils and lowered tolerance of germs n children) We have a pond and in the summer at the end of the day when we are hot and sweaty we jump in and get most off the grime off. I have a clothes line on the back porch to air/dry towels-if you hang them in fresh air right away, you can go several days between washing them. Watch your laundry-depending on your daily activities, you may be able to wear some garments several times before washing. I keep a large mouth gallon container in the kitchen and collect odd bits of water-say the water from the steamer or one of the kids left half a glass of water and use that to water plants. We don't water the lawn, we don't wash cars. You'll find other ways, also, once you pay attention to how much you use. One of our "When we get some extra Money"(ha ha) projects is to put rain barrels on the four corners of the house and use that for garden-or bath use. A long term project we want to do is to collect the grey water from the house and route it to the garden. Hope this helps some.

-- Kelly (markelly@scrtc.com), September 15, 2001.

If you are going to reuse dishwater on plants don't use antibacterial liquid-healthy soil depends on microorganisms to function. Sterile soil is dead. We have low volume toilets and have stopped flushing for urine (unless there is a large amt of tp building) Dh and I shower together (with non antibacterial soap) with the tub stopped and dip the water out in buckets thereafter. We also catch or airconditioner drip. We live in Florida which is going through a 100 year drought, and have still managed to keep the lawn green and gardens producing. PS WE HAVE to wash cars every so often or the salt air rusts them out- using professional carwashes is highly recommended in our area as they use less water.

-- Mitzi Giles (Egiles2@prodigy.net), September 16, 2001.

Whenever we brushed our teeth while camping we would fill a small cup with water, dip our toothbrush in, rinse our mouth with some of the water in the cup, and rinse the toothbrush with the remaining water in the cup. I've had a full leg cast on twice now and can tell you that you can go a long time bathing with just a basin of water and a washcloth!

-- Cindy in NY (cjpopeck@worldnet.att.net), September 16, 2001.

Keep a dishpan in the kitchen sink to catch ALL of the water. Then dump into a nearby recycled plastic bucket to carry it to flush the commode. I haven't used my kitchen drain in years. So wasteful.

Put a sign by the commode--"If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Let the urine collect until the brown comes to flush. If there's an odor, so what. How long are you there?????? Of course, this probably isn't adviseable if children are around.

I, personally, am one to collect urine and add it to the compost pile. It is sterile and full of nutrients. Most are too squeamish for this. I don't understand why. I would prefer a "sawdust" toilet for permanent use, but I am married to a squeamish spouse who won't think outside the box. Read THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK by Jenkins, advertised for sale in COUNTRYSIDE. Make sure that you get the much more thorough second edition.

Doing the laundry by hand weekly, I only use 5 gallons of water that is then recycled on to my perennials or the commode. Most established perennials require very little water. Only water when they are wilting.

I'm embarrassed to be living in such a wasteful society and it's not just water.

-- Sandy Davis (smd2@netzero.net), September 17, 2001.

When I hear the word "drought" my first fear is fire. Fires destroy homes and waste water at the same time. If you burn things outside you will want to cut back the trees a good distance and have buckets of water standing by to reduce the fire hazard. You can also cut fire breaks if you are in the woods.

-- Rick#7 (rick7@postmark.net), September 19, 2001.

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