Kylie Mendonca’s piece (“Save some for the passion fruit,” July 16) on gray water usage was excellent, distilling the intricacies of a water conservation approach many more people need to consider implementing.
However, as Josh Carmichael stated in the article, there is a “hierarchy of water conservation” starting with the installation of efficient fixtures such as low-flow faucets and toilets—and repairing leaks. Then, people can start considering “reuse” systems.
Carmichael then prioritizes gray water systems over rainwater harvesting, calling the latter a “re-use” approach. It is not. It is an original generation strategy. It may well be less expensive than most gray water retrofits (involving internal re-plumbing), especially if you DIY. That’s my expertise (provided as a community service). Holding tanks can be quite expensive but direct discharge into plant beds is possible, and you can get started with cheap trash barrels or by recycling fertilizer/liquid food totes.
Rainwater is much purer than any kind of gray water (especially from washing machines) as it is nearly potable. (There are now technologies that will pump and purify rainwater into your home.)
Even though it hasn’t rained much, any roof can generate thousands of gallons (there is a formula) with only 1 to 2 inches of rainfall. What you are really doing is directly capturing the moisture from the sky that, otherwise, you are paying a utility to route and process from an aquifer or lake/stream/aqueduct. And, I might add, paying a lot more for in the future. Think about it.
My rainwater harvesting program (with small scale solar included) in super-conserving Cambria (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) will be held Sept. 12.
-- William L. Seavey - Cambria (formerly of Orcutt)