Happy world water day! I’ve been thinking about our water usage for a while, and it seemed only fitting to write about it on the day the UN has designated to talk about the water crisis across the world.
Seth and I are lucky to be using very little water per day at the moment. Right now our tiny house doesn’t have a working shower or sink. We have plans for both. I had hoped to get them in before the baby arrived, but sometimes life gets in the way. And research! Always with the research. At any rate, we have water plumbed into the tiny house, but we don’t have permanent receptacles for it, and we use a composting toilet. This makes our water usage pretty low.
All together we average about 5 gallons of water per day. This includes hand-washing, dishes-washing, sponge bathing and drinking and cooking water for two people and an infant. We take showers and do laundry once or twice a week up the big house where our landlords live, which adds another 150-200 gallons (yikes!), bringing our total up to approximately 235 gallons per week. We expect this to increase when we get our own shower in, which will be a super low-flow showerhead, probably this one by Bricor (non-affiliate link) because we’ll be using less water but taking more more showers. I think we can reasonably anticipate using about 20 gallons of water per adult per day, and 10 for the baby. Fifty gallons of water a day! Holy moly.
According to the EPA, the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. When you put it into perspective like that, our water usage looks pretty good.
Still, where does that water go? In our current case, we sprinkle our wastewater in the surrounding trees and landscape. Once we have our shower and sinks in we’ll put build a french drain type system, and I plan to collect a fair amount and use it to irrigate the garden I’ve started. Since we use biodegradable soaps, this is a safe bet. Other options would be to collect it into a wastewater tank and dump it into a sewer or dispose of it at the landlord’s house.
I never used to think about water usage. Water just sort of went away after I was done with it, which I think is a pretty common sentiment. Our society makes it awkward to reduce water. Daily showers are expected. Single flush toilets are standard, instead of those that have options for liquids and solids flushing. And it’s hard to find a low-flow faucet aerator or shower head that makes you feel like you’re getting enough water to rinse off the soap.
I have no answers, only more questions. Are there tools to measure how much you’re using per day? Is it legal to install rainwater collection systems and graywater reuse systems? How can non tiny-housers cut back on their water? Just some thoughts. What are you thinking on world water day?