Its been 186 days since the last time I hauled recycled water. 6 months, 4 days. November 10th, 2015 was the date.
It had just rained a half an inch the day before last November and that is when I realized hauling water wasn’t going to be needed for my drought tolerant front yard. Besides, I was mostly hauling water at this point to keep my neighbors front yard alive. It worked, their grass was a green as could be but winter rains was what it really needed (and a fair amount of grass seed).
I hauled 17,540 gallons in 2015, 119 trips. I keep a track of every load I take home in an excel spreadsheet I keep on the home screen of my phone. Today, I broke the 20,000 gallon mark.
By November 10th, it had already rained enough to fill my rain barrel. Yes, its a trash can, but it holds 32 gallons of rainwater.
You may have read about how its a really easy way to capture rainwater from a downspout. I use a watering can to distribute that water. It works, its simple and uses supplies I already had laying around the house. Best of all, rainwater is free.
Why did I hold out so long to haul water? I just didn’t need it.
I already converted my front yard to drought tolerant garden, but the best part – the swale – was included in the rebuild. In short, there is a buried downspout drain pipe that allows water from the roof/gutters to flow into the ground first before flowing the street. This free water reduces hydraulic loading on local waterways and best of all reduces pollution flowing into the environment.
The benefits for my home garden means the plants get water where they need it, at their roots. All that rain water flowing in the swale allowed me to not need recycled water until now. Our garden exploded with growth this spring and never once did I need to turn on the sprinklers. The ground was soaking wet. Mulch helped the ground retain the moisture.
Now that the ground has dried out a little it made for a perfect time to pick up a load of recycled water. Oh how the memories of hauling water came back and honestly I missed it.
I went with the bag because it folds up to the size of a 3-ring binder, leaving plenty of room in my truck bed when not in use. Compare this to those large 275 gallon plastic totes that are heavy and take up space when not in use. Plus, I’m not advertising to the world that I’m hauling water when the bag is full (it doesn’t stick up above the sides of the truck bed).
Hauling a heavy bag became quickly apparent and so did the reminder that any driver with a sloshing liquid in their truck bed needs to account for extra braking distances. I let the weight of water keep the bag down in the bed. Securing it to the truck bed is virtually impossible for me. Its a risk I take, but I also pay attention when driving (strange I know… I keep my phone in my pocket), eyes scanning the road, giving myself ample time if evasive moves need to be taken. Quick jerks of the steering wheel could cause the bag to slosh putting myself and my precious cargo at risk.
Once home, I grabbed my pump – a 1500 gph pump from Harbor Freight, hooked up my recycled water only hoses and $5 lawn sprinkler and went to town on my front yard. Twenty minutes later, with bag empty and front yard watered, I was satisfied. All equipment worked fine. I cleaned up the equipment, folded the bag up, put everything away and went inside.
Sure, I could have just turned on the sprinklers, but I have so much fun hauling recycled water and putting the equipment I purchased to use. Plus, standing outside gives me a chance to reflect on the day and look forward to the day ahead. This is relaxing to me.
In my water hauling off-season, I did a lot of research on trailers. I have family that lives in the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and their landscape was especially hurting after a year of very limited precipitation. They didn’t want to be on the grossly unfair drought shame list, so they cut their water usage by over 50% and let segments of their yard die just to stay out the newspapers. They were willing to finance a water trailer if EBMUD didn’t stop shaming their paying customers for using over 1,000 gallons a day.
I did the math, it costs ~ $16 a day to haul recycled water to their property. That same volume of water cost $1.71 out the tap. A trailer costs $2500, even if half of it was financed, it would still take 882 trips to pay off, costing me $14,000+ in gas, which honestly equates to zero pay-off. My 150 gallons water bag is good enough for me.
At no point would be economical to haul recycled water that distance, unless I lived there. Luckily, the board of directors at EBMUD voted to stop shaming their paying customers for their water usage, but then imposed a 7% rate increase. Water is still cheaper out of the tap than it is to haul, at least for EBMUD residents.
It is the ugly truth. I know it doesn’t help the cause that this blog supports, but economics always must be considered. Water is cheap, until that changes, I won’t be hauling recycled water to places I’m not going.