Going green: water harvesting

Seems everyone out here in the desert is trying to go green and Mr and Mrs Juniorprof are no exception. We’ve already got our “green” car and we’re riding the bike to and from work. Yesterday, while I was hooping it up with some more senior colleagues (I should say I was raining 3’s on ’em), Mrs. Juniorprof went off to a water harvesting class at the local botanical garden. She came home with what sounded to me like an odd plan: to water the plants with water from the washing machine.

Yesterday afternoon we got a long pool drainage hose and a pipe clamp and took the washer drainage line out of the sewer line and placed this long (and cheap) hose on the end. Since the washer and dryer are already outside it was quite easy to run the hose over to a citrus tree. This morning we tried it out for the first time. To my amazement it worked quite well and an incredible amount of water came shooting out of the hose when the washer hit the spin cycle. The hose is long enough that we can move it from one tree (or cactus) to another between cycles and we can even hook it up to a water collection canister to save it for later. I’m quite impressed and would highly recommend this little technique to anyone wanting to save water (especially for those living in the desert). The people at the botanical garden insisted that neither washing detergent nor fabric softener is damaging to plants but they suggested that buying something biodegradable would make one feel more secure about the whole thing. Since we’d been doing that already, no worries on that front.

The next step for us is to figure out how to harvest the water off the roof during the coming monsoon season. Looks like I’ll be doing some gutter rearrangements in the near future so that we can put the water collection canister somewhere other than in the middle of the back yard.


12 responses to “Going green: water harvesting

  1. Oooh, this is kind of like what we’re planning to do in our new house. We live in a place with plenty of rain, and a sump pump constantly barfing water out by the side of the house. We’re going to hook up the end of it to a rain barrel (or two, it’s a LOT of water) and get a little solar pump to make a sprinkler system for our yard. You can get rain barrels at all kinds of garden websites and stores, and solar pumps that can pump a pond fountain can handle a more irrigational task, too.

  2. That’s totally awesome. My mother in law lives in a foreign country where water is scarce. She also uses the water from the washer to water plants. I remember visiting there the first time, and having to take a ‘sailor, shower with water warmed by the solar panels on the roof… (do I have to explain this ‘sailor’ thing to Americans??). Where she lives, EVERYONE has solar panels on their roof to warm their hot water … its a shame we Americans are so backwards in this regard.

  3. DrdrA, I agree, and I would love to get solar panels on our house. Unfortunately, the government refuses to give a sufficient subsidy to make it an affordable investment to someone such as myself. We are hoping that prices will drop into our price range soon to go solar. On the other hand, the hot water heating solar units are not terribly expensive and we may be able to do this on a more reasonable time scale. Thanks for reminding me!!

    Arlenna, Where have you seen the solar pumps for outdoor fountains? I’ve been looking and am not finding anything. Can you post a link or two here?

  4. Here’s the one I found and was thinking of:


    I don’t know exactly how I will do it, lol, and there are lower volume ones too, but I think it just uses basic hose connectors so you could rig up something for irrigation.

  5. Very interesting.

    If the economics don’t work, recycling and sustainable efforts won’t either.
    Check http://LivePaths.com a blog about innovative entrepreneurs that make money selling recycled items, provide green services or help us reduce our dependency on non renewable resources. These include some very cool Green online ventures, great new technologies, startups and investments opportunities.

  6. I think your filter didn’t like my link. You might have a duplicate of this floating around then, but here it is, not looking so linky:


  7. Your comments section does not like my links D:

  8. Sorry about the filter. I think I de-spammed everything.

  9. JP, we’re also in a water-parched area so this is really interesting. The thing is that we only water our vegetable garden–everything else is sufficiently xeriscaped or we just don’t care–did Mrs JuniorProf get any info on whether vegetable plants are also ok with wash water? They’re fast-growing and you do eat the results so I’m just a little more hesitant than I would be with other plants.

  10. DrJ, Yes its fine to use it for garden watering but they advise to use a biodegradable detergent.

  11. Let me know how it turns out if you get something rigged up before I do–I don’t even move until August and we might not get around to building it until next spring. I’ll watch your blog for updates. :)

  12. Juniorprof,

    Here’s my solution to building a water diverter for capturing rain water :

    Click Here

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