Quick shower overhaul helps save plants during drought, October 23, 2014

Author: Heather Hacking hhacking@chicoer.com @HeatherHacking on Twitter
About a year ago I was at small open mic night. People were helping to put away chairs and I decided to be helpful and wash the dishes.

Near the end of this little task, the hostess whisked by to see if anything more could be done.

Her eyes darted from the empty plastic tubs, conveniently located near the sink, and the faucet that was spewing water down the drain.

She didn’t need to say anything. I understood that I should have been sudsing up the dishes in the first tub and using the second tub to rinse.

For this woman, saving water was a regular part of her life, even if only a few dishes needed to be washed.

I, on the other hand, had bad habits.

A few months later, the governor declared the drought in California.

Water adds up

If you had asked me then, I would have vehemently denied being a water-waster. My showers were of a reasonable amount of time, I’m too lazy to wash the car, my yard is small, children do not flock to my house on Saturdays to play on a slip-and-slide.

Now that I’m consciously trying to conserve I see how quickly water adds up.

We have a five-gallon bucket in the shower and a little tub for wasted water in the sink.

This is kind of a pain, but lugging a bucket of water burns calories.

Burning calories is a known way to justify eating chocolate.

When I talk to officials at California Water Service, they promote installing low-flow toilets and showerheads. Installing permanent devices just once means water saving each day.

Some people are taking this idea a step further.

Cold water for plants

A few months ago Bob Scoville, a volunteer with the Master Gardener program in Glenn County, was pondering the idea of installing a water-capturing system in his shower.

“I need to be careful about what I say to the newspaper, because I might need to follow through with my ideas,” Bob joked more recently.

Now when he warms up the water for a shower, that first blast of agua flows to his yard.

The showerhead was already placed high in the tub area, and the pipe is only about 1 1 /2 feet from the outside wall.

A friend installed a piece of pipe that leads to the outside of the house.

A valve inside the shower lets Bob flip a switch to let the water flow outdoors for a minute or two.

The pipe outdoors is attached to a 50-foot hose, which is attached to a sprinkler head, which is placed near some plants Bob wants to keep alive.

“It doesn’t get a whole lot of water each time, but it adds up,” Bob said.

He moves the hose around when its time for another plant to survive.

Because he has a friend who did the work, his project was about $35 for parts.

Now he’s toying with the idea of installing a device that uses the water from the bathroom sink to pump into the toilet reservoir. This includes a filter.

I found a description online: http://goo.gl/qmy66T

Now that this is in print, I’ll check with Bob in a few months and find out how the new system works.

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