Get water-wise for UN World Water Day

March 22 is U.N. World Water Day and with the problems in Flint and in Southern California, water should be on your mind. Pasadena and Altadena just had a two-week ban on outdoor watering, and until the end of this month are limited to one day a week (Saturday). Even the affluent are being forced to conserve with penalties finally being passed out and names being named. Can there be a better time to buy Laura Allen’s 2015 book, “The Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape.”

Allen is based in Los Angeles and is the co-founder of Greywater Action. Greywater is waste water that has been used in the house or in office buildings that has not been contaminated by fecal matter. Greywater includes water from sinks, showers, bathes, washing machines and dish washers.

The book covers:

  1. Why Conserve Water?
  2. What’s Wrong with Our Water Systems?
  3. Saving Water in the Home and Landscape
  4. Greywater Reuse: Planning Your Home System
  5. Installing Your Greywater System
  6. Rainwater Harvesting: Planning Your System
  7. Building Rainwater Harvesting Systems
  8. Waterless and Composting Toilets

The chapters are arranged in order of difficulty and commitment. The first four are the basics. The last four are increasing difficult solutions. While many water districts encourage re-thinking your landscaping and changing to water-wise gardening options, greywater systems are not legal in all areas. Allen notes that there are safety considerations with greywater and that using greywater means also using soaps and detergents that are plant-friendly.

Harvesting rainwater is not so controversial and can be incorporated into your landscaping plans, but you might hesitate to actually build a system. Waterless and composting toilets are an option, but Allen includes a section about composting toilets and the law. Waste, particularly fecal waste which can cause pollution and disease, is a stinky issue that needs to be approached with care.

If you’ve waited too long to take our your lawn, you may have missed all the possible rebates. There are other rebates still available. Check with your local water agencies.

Going to greywater doesn’t mean that your yard will be a barren, brown wasteland. While “The Water-Wise Home” has many illustrations, it doesn’t have colored photos. You’ll have to look to other publications for help with gardening ideas or take the Theodore Payne Foundation Annual Garden Tour.

For home owners, landscapers and even renters, “The Water-Wise Home” is a good informational text to help you plan. Knowledgeable renters might even be able to convince their landlords to go grey or at least re-consider the landscaping options. Each chapter comes with a list of resources.  “The Water-Wise Home” is available on for $21.20 in paperback or $9.99 on Kindle.



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