Ok, this is related post to Doomer and Sunshines requests for info on saving water, see the whole post here on Canadian Doomer..
As I can no longer commnet, despite fighting with the comment software a good number of times, and because I will be writing out some easy and some no so easy to live and do tips, I figured it would be a good blog post as well.
Ok, a little background info on the times that I have been without water (as in running water in a house)
1st time, younger child, at first water was hauled in and then a well was drilled, so we had a well in the yard to haul in from.. house had power and propane. I also spent a number of weeks in my teen years at the same place with the same no running water in the house.
2ns time- older- again a house without running water, propane limited, gen -limited, with a creek an a drilled well
3rd time- my current farm, worked off the back well only, which means hand pumping all water and carrying it to the house for use.
Ok, so this is in fact a combo effect, they had a low water in the well, due to a leaking toilet, so clearly, ideally they would have a way to check to listen if their pump is kicking in but I am not sure if they have a pump, I think it was gravity feed, so in that case a once a week check on all area’s that could leak would be well worth that bit of time.
Second, checking the well at different times of the season well worth it, and then as you learn your land, and your well, you can begin to learn “signs” for when the well is going down, also learn the taste of your water, it changes based on the amount of water in your well and if you are good at that, it will help greatly, I can get to within a few feet of us checking based on the taste of my water after this number of years.
I can also look at my slew area and my pond and have a good tell on them on where the well will be at, as I have a large hugelculture near the well, the plants also tell me, my swells tell me information as well.
Ok but getting back to their questions, first off, I am going to straight out say, that a lot of folks will cringe alittle at the idea of this given our modern, but I am going to share anyway.
So for the hand washing water, first where gloves when possible, they will get really dirty but they save your hands a fair amount, second, in the morning, have a wash pan with a bar of good soap, pour your water in the pan, wash hands with soap, rinse in the same water, dry hand on small towel (to remove the soapy water) and in a much smaller bowl have clean rinse water with the typical amount of bleach per the bottles instructions, then dip the hands in the clean and reusable rinse water, air dry them and repeat, that first water can be used all day with bits of fresh added if needed to warm it up but mainly its just reused over and over, as is the rinse water.
Second, forget baths or showers.. if water is truly tight, you go back to sponge bathing, and once a week hair washing, if you are positive you must shower, and you are willing to haul the water to do so and to heat it up etc, stand in a tub so that the water can be reused for flushing a toilet or for wash water etc.
Hand washing will take much, much less water then using a machine, unless you can save the water as it comes out each time.. my currently machine takes eight five gallon buckets twice to do a single load, I can wash and rinse, wring and hang to dry two to four loads by hand with a total of four five gallon buckets..
How much water can you lift, standard is five gallon buckets which is 40 pounds per side, as you should ideally carry a bucket on each side to balance the weights on, I personally never go heavier then that. dumping it out is the same, just different buckets but as I believe they have a system for grey water, you can put it down the sinks or the toilet.
I don’t agree with replacing the toilet as commented on, its already there, its set up etc, what I do recommend is considering adding a working outhouse to the farm, this means that if water is low, everyone goes out, but when water is good, you can have both working systems, also it means that in heavier work times or with busy children, feet and footwear does not need to come off before coming in the house etc.
Where and how can I dump it, I don’t understand this one? its grey water, you can dump it anywhere you want, in the gardens, on the tree’s, in the compost pile to keep it at the right water content.
Now laundry got brought up, so there is a couple things of note, first, there should be outside cloths, be it overall’s or a certain pair of pants and shirt combo or dress, that is considered farm, if you are truly short short on water, this outfit is a over or outside outfit out, and you where it over and over again without washing it.. sorry folks.. it was a running joke that true farm blue jeans could stand up on their own, they go on and then come off, but they don’t go to the laundry any more then barn coverall’s do.
Most of the time, these cloths don’t make it past the mud room or the pegs on the outside porch etc, they stink, and they are dirty, go to town cloths are the opposite, they are clean, press and worn off the farm, and the second you walk back in the door, they are taken off, hung back up and might be hung outside to air out, but are again only washed ever so many times they worn, or if you spill, you would spot wash them, example a spill or example wash out the pits only, rinse and dry.
now the daily wash is simple, its one load, socks and underwear, these need to be washed daily and kept on..
Before bed washing always includes necks, feet so that you are climbing into bed with clean feet, as your sheets are going to be washed typically once a month in this system, again they can be taken off the beds and air dried and blown around on the lines to sweeten them.
Again, I am not talking about typically living, I am talking if you need to really conserve your water for a few weeks to get you though the heat of summer.
Which bring me to the next point if you are going to run low on water, you will need to look to every way possible to get water off the roofs of buildings etc as the amount of water able to be collected off of them is amazing! and each drop you can use from a rain water system for your animals watering needs, your garden watering needs, your household needs is one less bucket coming out of your well for “clean water needs” rain water is perfect for washing floors etc.
Now something that uses more water then most think of is canning, it takes a lot of hauled in water to fill a big pressure canner, ideally you can get a few uses out of it, and a splash of vinager in the water is a great help on this but if you are canning daily, you are filling it daily and it takes an amazing amount of water..
If possible waterbath as much as possible as it takes less water and if you treat the water can be used for longer, then the pressure canner can do so. That water can be used for garden use
Well, I hope that helps a bit.. and hopefully, if you are going to run low, it will only be for a few weeks of the year at a time.
I’m using city water, but monitoring how much I actually use each day, and trying to break down everything into the simplest and most efficient steps: how to wash (& rinse!) your hands without running water. How to best do laundry. How much water can I lift, either to haul water or to dump it out? Where/how can I dump it? (I especially wonder what I’ll do in cold Canadian winters!!)