Water recycling

AZRoboTechJune 25, 2013

Just wondering how many of you capture rain water, use your pool water to water your lawn or put your reverse osmosis waste water to good use? I dont have rain gutters so I cant capture rain water but I do use pool water for the lawn when a little drain is nedded. I also just recently started putting my RO waste water to use watering some plants once I found out that for every one gallon of good water creates 3 - 4 gallons in waste. I'm hoping to get some more ideas to put wayed water to good use.

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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Reusing waste water is a great idea, but you may be doing harm to your plants by using pool water (chlorine) and RO (salt). I don't have either, so maybe other folks will weigh in with the pros and cons of chemically-treated water. I do use the run-off from the evap cooler in the few (getting fewer) weeks we use it before the AC comes on. That water, too, is salty, but there's not a lot of it and it goes to a few plants that are very hardy and don't seem to mind.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 12:56PM
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I'v been using pool water for about 3 years now with no ill affects and I watched my dad use for 10 + years with good results. So maybe way down the road there maybe some unwanted issues but I think things will be ok. I have My RO over flow running to a potted fern type plant that gets sun untill about 1:30pm and its really taking off. I'll have to see if I can do anything with my A/C condensation run off.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 4:50AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

If the AC condensation runoff is pooling in one place, you could plant mint or watercress to soak it up. Otherwise, you'll have a mosquito farm.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:34PM
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AZ robo, I'd recommend you buy an inexpensive TDS meter. I wouldn't use any water over 1,000. Most drinking water in the valley comes out the tap in the 500+ range.

Like tomatofreak, I capture my evap cooler bleed-off water and use it to water my trees. So far, so good.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:09PM
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I have one 65 gal. rain barrel sitting under the eaves where the rain runs off in a steady stream and several 15 gal chlorine buckets and other containers under the eaves to catch more. I probably get around 250 gal. when they're all full. I also have a rain gutter just lying on the ground catching runoff directed into the garden area, all very haphazard and one of these days hope to get the gutters installed and more rain barrels. I'd also like to get a French drain directed into the orchard area. I managed to water all my from seed transplants this spring for a couple of months exclusively with rainwater and they really seemed to do well.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 4:59PM
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"I don't have rain gutters so I cant capture rain water but I do use pool water for the lawn when a little drain is needed. I also just recently started putting my RO waste water to use ...."

1. Sounds like you can afford rain gutters (I recommend seamless) which aren't that expensive. Rainwater is pure water, nothing finer. You can keep all that falls on your property pretty easily. And maybe even direct passing water onto your property.

2. People generally frown of pool water reuse. If you use the salt water method of fighting algae then you are nuts! (see below #3). If you use chloramine (sp?) you should dump it in the alley as the stable chlorine will kill a lot of your precious soil life. If you use chlorine then I encourage you to go ahead and dump your water into your yard, but time it so it would normally be just after you would re-chlorinate so levels are low.

3. RO waste water. You are nuts! Why don't you just dump seawater on your plants? There is a reason RO water is the best (along with rain) for plants--it is pure. The salts extracted and concentrated in the waste water will kill your plants and more importantly sterilize your soil against ANY plant growth forever. This is why so many growers have contempt for those who manufacture RO water as you said, it screws up a lot of water for every gallon it makes. Worse, tons of water has to be applied to wash the salts down to rehab the soil. It is better to just bulldoze it up and haul it to the dump after it gets dosed. There is a reason conquering armies used to salt the fields of their enemies.

4. Graywater re-usage went unmentioned. It can account for 40% of your water bill.

Here is a link that might be useful: Harvesting Rainwater

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:21PM
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I think some of you may be confused about how a residential R/O system works. It doesnt add TDS or salt to the water nor does it concentrate it. City water goes in, the filters in the system catch really really small microbes, cysts and other crap in the water and R/O water comes out. It doesnt process the waste water differently than the drinking water it creates, its just water that would be wasted otherwise. You could drink it, do laundry with it, take a bath with it, wash your car with it or water your plants with it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 7:35AM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Sorry, RoboTech, RO was developed to *desalinate* sea or brackish water. It does not add sodium to your water; it removes it, therefore the waste water from the process does indeed have a concentration of salt greater than the tap water than went into the system. Personally, I don't know why this system is still in use; it is quite wasteful and removes some of the good stuff (minerals) that one should want in drinking water.

Here is a link that might be useful: How Reverse Osmosis works.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 12:43PM
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One of the first things I did when I moved into my house was to cut a vertical access hole in my family room drywall and install a 2 inch pipe that goes to one of the upstairs bathtubs, so now my bathtub drains through a network of pvc pipes I burried in my yard that go to several trees and grapevines that are doing awesome. I also installed a pipe that takes the condensation from 2 AC units on my roof, to a big african sumac tree that shades the western side of my house. Next I tapped into this same line and ran it to my swamp cooler. I have it connected to the cooler pump with a valve that I open once or twice every day (only in the spring and fall of course) for just a minute or so and let it flush out all the water from the cooler to the same tree, to avoid salt buildup in the swamp cooler. I'm just now getting ready to take home one of those 275 galon water totes which I will install in a corner where my garden is, and I will put up a provisional gutter system to collect water off that L shaped part of the house into this tote, which I plan to turn into an aquaphonics system with fish and a grow bed above it. I know I'm crazy, but I can't stand every time we have monsoon to watch all that good water going to waste. I so wish I could sell my house and buy a house away from the city and do all this stuff to it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 4:41PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Wow, you are one creative gardener - and water-wise user. How long have you been using the condensate? Salt build-up can cause problems, I think, and my yard may be a good example. Years and years of irrigation (lots of salt in that water) have created very dense soil that won't even grow grass in certain areas.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 5:11PM
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Greendesert it sounds like you put some good work in and are no doubt getting good value added results. Thanks for the ideas.
Tomatoefreak, maybe my system is different from the ones you are referring to. Mine is far from complicated and is way to simple to do what you are saying. The 3 filters catch all the bad stuff. Once the filters are full and producing r/o water that water goes to a holding tank. The city water keeps feeding through the system keeping the filters full and producing. But theres to much city water for the system to handle so the water just goes to waste. Maybe it should be called bypass water because that is actually what it is doing. None the less the proof is in the pudding. The plants that are getting this water are thriving not dying.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 5:39PM
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@tomatofreak - I've just added the AC condensate discharge pipe thing about a year ago. I'm not sure what salt buildup you're talking because there cannot be any salt in that condensate. That is pure water as good as rainwater. It comes from the humidity in the air when it is passed through the cold AC fins, so that is distilled water. The swamp cooler thing is a different story. That water does have elevated salt levels, BUT since I flush it out every day, there isn't enough time for the salt to get concentrated. So far my tree is happy.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 5:47PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Oops, you are right; I mixed my cooling systems. I let the evap runoff water a few plants, but the evap season is so short anymore that I don't worry about adverse effects.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 7:00PM
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I have several large fish tanks loaded with Discus. I do a complete water change every week in every tank. I refill with RO water and add in the minerals that are beneficial to the fish. I capture all of the drained tank water and RO waste water into a 600 gallon holding tank. The water is then pumped for use into the container and raised bed gardens and greenhouses. I've done this for several years. I have huge vegetable and tropical fruit yields. I custom mix my own growing media. I will tell you that the water is softened prior to entering the RO filters. If so much salt is entering the soil I'm not seeing it and I reuse my growing medium from year to year.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:52PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I collect small amounts of rain water with small buckets and pitchers and water my small plants with it.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:58PM
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