Water In The Dry Season

9 Mar

Halfway around the word, a friend complains in her Facebook page that she is tired of winter. Here in the Philippines, we bake in the unusual heat this time of the year. It has not rained in more than three months and the water levels in our aquifers, dams, and wells are running very low.  Summer has only just started and already the heat can be oppressively hot during mid-day.  

Worse, with the heat comes sporadic power black outs and a severe water crisis. Truth to tell, it’s not as if we’re unused to these third world discomforts. Our house sits on top of a hill and is considered the highest point in our little barangay, which in turn, also sits on high ground. This feature protected us during the wrath of Ondoy, when the rains threatened to flood the entire city. These days, however, it makes us perfect first-line victims of water scarcity, rationing or cuts. It’s a hardship we have to learn to live with.

So what to do?  In my household, I have already prepared buckets and barrels for water collection. All of our bathrooms have extra-large covered pails, dippers and basins. We have also set up Alphonse’s small pool, filled it halfway, and covered it tightly so the water lasts us about two weeks. We use this water not only as his play water (we really can’t help it that Alphonse loves water) but also as water for the toilets, for cleaning the car and garage, for washing rags, and for watering what’s left of the plants.

Still, there’s more to be done to make sure that we don’t waste a single drop of water. Below are some of the things we already do in our home. Can you think of some more?  

Kitchen  

We wash fruits and vegetables in basins of water instead of running water from the tap. We then collect and reuse dirty wash water for toilets and houseplants.

When washing dishes, we fill a large basin with water and rinse only when all of the dishes have been soaped and scrubbed. We soak pots and pans in basins, too; we don’t scrub them under running water. Again, we re-use this dirty water for flushing toilets.

Frozen food is defrosted in the refrigerator overnight instead of being thawed in water.

 Cleaning and Laundry  

We use native brooms (walis tingting), not a hose, to clean the driveway, the garage,  and sidewalks. When we must wet the driveway (to wash dog poo, for example), we use a pail and a dipper and only on the spot that needs washing.

We match the water level of our washing machine to the size of the laundry load and use just the right amount of soap for the water level. Too much soap uses more water in rinsing. We also collect the run-offs (soapy water, rinse water) for reuse.

Eating

I got this idea online and I think this is great — assigning one glass for drinking each day (label them) or using a personalized water bottle. At home, we already use water bottles instead of glasses for drinking to keep spills to a minimum. But it’s also a great idea to save on washing a lot of drinking glasses throughout the day.

When we have lots of ice left in our water bottles, we simply pop them back in the freezer for later use. But sometimes, we dump them in plants, especially the ones that are left over from drinking colored sodas or juices.

Bathing 

I don’t have small kids anymore but when my nephew Enzo and niece Isabelle lived next door, one of the ways their mom would save on water and time and effort would be to bathe them at the same time. Anj, their mom, would put them in a large baby tub and wash them there. The dirty water was also reused for toilets. 

The easiest way to save water is to shift from separate shampoo and conditioner to a two-in-one hair cleansing product. Even just doing this already saves water from the double rinse.

This is perhaps the most basic: don’t let the water run. When you wash your hands, brush your teeth, shave, or even bathe, don’t let the water run. Turn off the water and make sure to turn off faucets tightly after each use. If you collect water in containers, watch them so they don’t overflow.

I started doing this as a medical student while on hospital duty. Because time was a valuable commodity, bathing had to be systematic. As soon as I was wet with water, I shampooed and lathered at the same tame. With water dripping from my head, I also washed my  face and often brushed my teeth while I bathed. The habit has stuck, and though a trifle weird, it does save water.

Most Filipinos already use a bucket and a tabo (water dipper) to bathe. We added a large basin (pink, if you must know) to catch run-offs from baths and use this to flush our toilet or clean the bathroom floor. The technique is simple: either stand inside the basin or bend over the side to catch water. 

Before we started using pails of dirty water to flush our toilets, we used to put a small plastic bottle filled with sand inside the toilet tank to increase water level artificially for flushing.  

And still some other stuff that help us use water well:

Watering plants in the morning is generally recommended but since mornings in the Philippines are already quite hot, water at dusk instead to reduce evaporation.

Always check for leaks. If you see that your water consumption is high despite efforts to improve water use, check your water lines and connections for leaks.  

~0~

I pray it rains soon. I’d hate to think what a long drought and an extended dry season would do to us. For a country surrounded by water, it would be the height of irony to die of thirst. 

 

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9 Responses to “Water In The Dry Season”

  1. Manggy March 9, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I pray it rains soon too. I think of all the poor farmers whose livelihoods are withering away.

    • Kittymama March 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

      I know. Can you imagine all those farm fields now gone to waste? 😦

  2. leirs March 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    thanks for the great tips!!

    • Kittymama March 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

      Thanks, Leirs. 🙂

  3. Onnie March 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Great suggestions, Pinks!

    May I add one more?

    For valuable potted plants that I cherish, I put them on the botanical equivalent of an IV line. I just got a variegated bamboo, very stunning. It has more white than green on its leaves. It costs 4,000 pesos. And I got it for free, bless my friend’s very generous heart. It’s about as tall as me.

    And this is what I do to pamper it without wasting water.

    I cut off the base of a plastic mineral water bottle. Then, I sink the bottle into the soil, upside down, and anchor that with a stake. Finally, I add a few inches of sand in the inverted bottle.

    Every day, I just fill up the inverted bottle. The water sinks slowly, due to the layer of sand at the base.

    The soil remains moist throughout the day. Sometimes, I top it up in the middle of the day if the soil medium is drying out too much.

    And I don’t think it will breed dengue-carrying mosquitoes – this reservoir empties out in the course of minutes to several hours, depending on the moisture level of the pot. Any mosquito eggs that are deposited on the water reservoir will die out when the water level drops.

    Another thing we do – we still have a supply of rain water in our tanks, collected form our gutters. I don’t know if you still do that in Manila.

    But we haven’t gone through the same measures as you have, Pinky – your efforts are truly commendable.

    I like the idea of the swimming pool that performs double-duty – cools down Alphonse, and gets used up as well for other purposes – cool idea, Pinky!

    Ron

    • Kittymama March 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

      Oh, my, I love your suggestion, Ronnie! Galing! I think I’ll do that to the few remaining plants I still have (a lot of them have already died in this scorching heat).

      We do collect rain water but they’ve all been used up already. When I think about how little water we have left in the dams, I’m almost afraid to take a bath again.

      Thanks for dropping by, Ronnie. Do visit again. Hugs, dear friend!

  4. AC March 11, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    😦 I wantzz the pool -_- That’s the one thing I miss when there’s a drought -_-

    • Kittymama March 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

      You’re spending way too much time locked away in your room. Come down and check the garage. The pool’s there! 🙂

  5. Daddy Forever March 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    We’re lucky we have relatively mild winters and summers here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not too cold in the winter and not too hot in summer. But our rain season is about ten months.

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