Going off the grid: water

I was looking into what it’d take to live off all this rain we get here, or at least cut drastically down on water consumption. This PDF “Rain Barrel Fun Facts” was pretty interesting. Specifically:

That’s a lot of water to catch!
For every inch of rain that falls on a square foot of your roof, you can receive just over
half a gallon of water (0.6 gallons of water).

For example, if you have a shed that is 10’ x 10’, and you can collect the rainwater
from all 100 square feet of roof, you could collect 60 gallons in one 1 inch rain.

We get roughly 35 inches of rain per year in Kirkland. I figure my roof is roughly 800 square feet. That’s 16,800 gallons of water per year (800x35x0.6).

The average American somehow manages to use between 50-200 gallons of water per day, which is completely ridiculous. I work from home and don’t even try to conserve water and, according to the utility bill, have been using 23 gallons per day and I could easily cut that in half by just not running water for an hour while doing dishes. So, usage is 8,395 gallons per year (given 23 gallons/day). I’d need a 400 square foot roof.

The only expensive thing about doing this would be storing 8,000 gallons of water. That’s 145 50 gallon steel drums – which is a ton of space (stood up right, next to each [each with a width of 23 inches] would be about 555 square feet – or my entire back yard). While you can find these used, new, that’d come to about $5,220. I have no idea how expensive it’d be to build a cistern but that’d probably be the way to go (a 2,500 gallon in-ground cistern goes for $2,300).

Realistically you’d just need to store 3,000 gallons or so to get you through the summer (4 months) of no rain.

The rest of this set up would just require routing the water into the existing plumbing (via some sort of pressurization scheme [gravity, pump, etc.]) and through a water filter (I have two friends who lived like this in Oregon for years). Which should be pretty painless.

It’s kind of surprising that, given house building costs of nearly $200K+ this isn’t simply required. At time of construction this should be very inexpensive to add.

In any case – over coming resource problems is far from rocket science… at least on the water front it seems like an almost trivial problem to solve.