Watering the garden- environmental dilemma

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Selleri, Jun 12, 2022.

  1. Sian in Belgium

    Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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    Interesting to read your various thoughts on this topic!
    We are very much aware of the cost of using tap water, as it is more than €0.05 per litre. We also normally have v dry springs and summers, with more rain in the late autumn and winter. Most summers we have a watering ban. No hosepipes, or even bucket-watering, with clean water, car-washing is also banned! Our soil is also very sandy, so does not hold moisture.
    Obviously, we try to plant drought tolerant varieties. We have some pots against the house (tarmac up to the walls!), so they need watering, and the wildlife pond looses lots of water with drying winds, bathing birds and visiting wildlife. Sometimes we top up the pond from the house rainwater tank, but they are far apart, and the tank is a lot lower down on the slope, so it’s not really feasible.

    What do we do?
    Well, we have a long pipe run from the hot water tank to the taps (no idea why, apart from the tank is in the garage, two rooms away from any tap!). So, when we run the shower, I have a clean water trug that the shower head goes in until it is running hot. It is then moved to the other side of the shower-area, to be kept away from the soap. 10 litres every day from my shower, and then 5 litres from hubby’s, who showers about 20 mins later. That gets carried up to the pond if soap-free, or used elsewhere if soap has got in there…
    Washing up pans etc, even though we have a dishwasher, means another 4 litres of water drawn before it runs hot…
    I use as little detergent as possible (septic tank to be kept healthy), and any “clean” washing up water, salad rinsing water, etc, go into the pots, onto the veg beds, or where it is needed most.
    If thunder rain is due, we get every trug, bucket, etc that we have out, and gather as much as we can.
     
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    • shiney

      shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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      We're on an island but do they think of desalination plants? No! :doh:

      The only one in the UK is in the East End of London (salt water from the Thames Estuary). They're talking about four more large ones and a lot of small ones to be built by 2050 but I wouldn't hold your breath. It would normally take a lot of power to run the plants but now, with reverse osmosis, it would be cheaper.

      Dozens of countries now use desalination with Israel being the biggest user per population where they are now producing around 50% of of clean water for domestic, commercial and farming use.

      We wouldn't have a problem if they got their finger out. It must still be stuck in a dyke!
       
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      • Fat Controller

        Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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        The last reservoir built in the UK was 1989 (Roadford Lake) - List of reservoirs in England and Wales by volume - Wikipedia

        Since then, the population of the country has increased by well over 20 million, but the infrastructure has not increased alongside it. Most winters, we have flooding in many places yet we haven't built storm drains to carry the deluges away and then store it. Our sewerage/drainage systems in many cases are fairly useless too; I recently found out that many road drains in our area are simply soakaways - as water is such a precious commodity, surely that too should be diverted and saved?

        See, this is the problem I have with so much of the so called 'green' agenda - they are taking money out of people's pockets and have been for many years, but they are not spending on infrastructure that would improve basics such as water and drainage. Instead, they mandate building huge tower blocks that put further stress on the existing infrastructure.
         
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        • pete

          pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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          Storm drains are what I was hinting at earlier regarding the sewage system getting overloaded during heavy rain.
          A separate system for rain water.
          The only problem I foresee with that is would the water be of any use, bearing in mind how much salt is dumped on our roads each winter, other pollutants as well, oil, rubber etc.

          I seem to remember a problem some years ago where on one of the motorways the run off had leached out of its allotted "pond" and poluted streams in the area.
           
        • Fat Controller

          Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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          Salt would be an issue for sure, but not an insurmountable one - particularly if the water is fed into storage reservoirs that have various intakes (and not just road surface water for example) - that first stage of dilution would help for a starter. We can desalinate if we wish (solar panels could be used to power that process, or wind energy), it could be allowed to run through various sedimentary filter beds (as they do anyway) and there is even chemical treatments. So many things we could do - but there isn't the will to do it.
           
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          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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            I definitely think all new build developments should have to have some kind of water management plan for surface water.
            Just bunging the surface water down the drains is not the answer, but then going back a few years when we had an exceptionally dry summer I remember the water companies complaining that the sewers were blocking up because they rely on rain water to flush them out. :biggrin:
             
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            • Fat Controller

              Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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              We could (and should) have grey water recovery - some water should go directly to the sewers of course (toilet water and perhaps kitchen sink water) but we should be recovering water from bathing, showering and general ablutions.
               
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              • Victoria

                Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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                What about putting the unflushables down the toilets? Not just tampons, diapers, wet wipes etc but then masks from Covid???????

                We are critically aware of this as we are on natural drainage, ie, into the earth soakaway (fosse), and don't even put toilet paper down, it goes in the bin. We had to register doing this.
                 
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                • pete

                  pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                  Fat bergs are the biggest problem.:biggrin:
                   
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                  • Victoria

                    Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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                    Sorry, I don't understand this. :scratch: :redface:
                     
                  • Fat Controller

                    Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                    Due to a number of factors, there have been quite a few fat bergs blocking sewers in London - a mixture of people (allegedly) pouring cooking oil down the sink, cold temperatures in the sewers, floating non-flushables such as sanitary products and wipes and it all congeals and forms a huge wall of fat. They had to dig up a road in Kingston years ago to open a massive pit and remove the fat from the top.

                    'Bus-sized fatberg' in London sewer

                    The blunt truth, however, is that routine maintenance that used to be carried out was stopped thanks to privatisation and they moved to a reactive model of maintenance - - fix it when it breaks. Trouble is, by the time things like this are discovered, it is so majorly broken it requires major works to resolve.
                     
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                    • Victoria

                      Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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                      :yikes: Fat down the drains ... always a nightmare for me and I never understand why this is done. :hate-shocked: I can't stand grease on my hands! :runforhills:
                       
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                      • pete

                        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                        I'm just pondering on what I would do with someone else's bath water.:scratch:
                        Or is this just going to be a house by house thing, ie. your own bath water goes into a tank on your property, to use as you will, maybe car washing or something like that.
                         
                      • pete

                        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                        Its certain types of restaurant.

                        Fish and chip shops obviously.;)
                         
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                        • Jocko

                          Jocko Guided by my better half.

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                          The last major public water supply reservoir to be constructed in the UK for water supply purposes was Carsington in 1991. Still a long time ago.
                          I know that here in Scotland all new builds have a water management system as part of the planning approval. The local new build near me, Shawfair has an open water drainage pond created at Danderhall South and there are plans to plant large areas of structural landscaping and community woodland.
                           
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