Wednesday, 29 September 2010

How to conserve water

My good friend Amber recently initiated a Facebook discussion about water consumption and conservation.  Water conservation is something that we are thinking about every day, especially now during dry season.  Because we have to.  The Highlands of PNG is experiencing one of the driest dry seasons in more than a decade.  We had a bit of a respite, with a couple of weeks of on and off showers.  But the dry season has returned with a vengeance.  The sun has been hot and there has been almost no rain for the last two weeks.

Since we mostly depend on rain for our water supply, we are really having to watch our water usage.  Beck, who thinks I am a bit crazy about the whole thing, has referred to me as "the water nutsy."  OK, I will admit to being at least a little crazy.  But hey... desperate times call for desperate measures.

So here are some of the ways that we are conserving water.

  • #1 and most importantly... PRAY FOR RAIN!!!
  • Check the tank on a daily basis to see how much water is left.  (We are currently down to 1/4 tank or less.)

  • Use dirty dish water for watering potted plants.

  • Consider reducing morning walk/exercise to every other day.  If you don't get sweaty, maybe you can get by one extra day without a shower.  (My bro would be so proud.  He knows how I like my daily shower.)
  • Take what we un-affectionately call a "military shower."  This means that you turn on the water long enough to get wet, turn off to lather up, and turn on again to rinse.  No leisurely 20 minute showers these days!
  • Collect cold shower water (the part where you are waiting for it to get warm) in a bucket and use for flushing the toilet.
  • If it is yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down.

  • Wear clothes more than once, unless they are covered with blood or pus or other such things from working at the hospital.
  • Only do laundry when it rains, you run out of "the essentials" (a.k.a. scrubs), or are otherwise desperate for clean clothes.
  • Borrow a hose from the neighbors so that you can pump water from the well faucet into the washing machine.  Return the hose when you find out it doesn't fit.  Physically haul 5-6 buckets of water from the well faucet, through the back door, and to the washing machine to fill it up.  Try not to spill any precious drops.  Call the neighbors and ask them to catch Brutus the Wonder Dog who has escaped out the back door while you are hauling water.  Wait for the rinse cycle and sprint to the laundry room to refill the machine with well water.  Thankfully rinse only requires 4 buckets.  You figure if you started out the laundry conserving resources, you might as well finish it that way and hang the clothes out to dry.
  • While hanging out the clothes, scan the horizon for rain clouds for about the millionth time today.  You feel like Elijah.  Think about your PNG friends who depend on rain to water their gardens.  And pray some more.

  • Hope that someone else has a hose that fits your faucet in case the rain tank runs dry and you need to fill it from the well.  (Not sure what to do if no one has a hose that fits.  I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it!)
  • Spending half the day in conservation efforts has caused you to work up quite a thirst!  Sit down and enjoy a nice glass of ice water.  A small glass.
  • Take a nap because you are tired from hauling water.
  • Despite the comedy of it all, you feel thankful that you don't have to bathe or wash clothes in the river (yet) and only have to carry water as far as the back door.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"
The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?"  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.  Where can you get this living water?"
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
~ John 4:7-14


  1. Here's a couple of more ideas that we have done, Steph. 1. Save your shower water to flush your toilet. Use the water that runs to get the hot to fill your water filter. 2. Stop your wash after each cycle and use again. i.e. start with your lights, run them through the wash cycle, stop the washer, wring out clothes and place in large plastic container, put in the next load, repeat. After washing three loads run the water out-preferably into something you can save it in to use for watering things, fill washer for rinse cycle and use for each load as above! We did this the year of the El Nino.
    Get the key for empty house below you and use the water there!

  2. Marsha... you are A-mazing! Thanks for the tips... though Beck won't be too happy ;).

  3. Why am I smiling in all of these pictures? This is NOT fun.

  4. OK, my favorite has to be, "If it is yellow...." I'll never forget the year growing up in San Diego that my dad planted a small plot of corn and ran a pipe from the washing machine (in a corner of our garage), across the garage floor (against a wall), out the side garage door, across the driveway to the corn field.

  5. Our washing machine conveniently drains into the garden... I think that is why our blackberry bushes do so well! Laundry detergent must be a good fertilizer :).