Monday, 4 December 2006

WATER SAVING OR FOLLY ?

OK so I decided today was the day to send the washing machine water out onto the garden. Very commendable and about time too, you say.

I keep a lot of watering system bits and pieces on the shelf so I can connect just about any 2 (or more) pipes of almost any diameter together so I set to the task happily. To avoid the nasty side- effect of the water not being able to get away quickly enough and flooding the laundry I decided to use 25mm black pipe (rather than the more common 19mm). Problem 1 : no 25mm pipe. Remedy - a quick trip to the hardware shop (and I still forgot to post those letters on the way). $16 to buy 8m - enough to do 2 jobs really but I forgot to measure how much I needed before I went.


I have a few 25mm fittings left over from the days when I was related to a nursery - at least 20 years ago - and to think I almost threw them out once ! After sticking the ends in a jug of boiling water everything slipped into place like a hand in a glove. I had planned to poke the pipe out through the dog flap but found that poor, old Jessie couldn't get in or out with it in the way. Problem 2 was immediately solved when I realised that a nasty hole in the flywire could be put to use and hey presto the washing machine water would now flow out onto the lawn.

Problem 3 : maybe the water gushing out would put a hole in the lawn. Solution - put a spiked click on spray on the end that could be stuck in the ground wherever the water was needed instead of just swooshing out in one place. Easy - I have fittings for any contingency and my lack of spacial comprehension is no match for my ingenuity and persistance. I think that, over the next hours I pieced together every combination of possibilities and every time there was a vital piece I didn't have. My head was dizzy and I couldn't think straight until I realised I hadn't stopped for lunch and it was 3pm. Wow, water re-use is such fun. Satisfied and clear-headed again I tackled the task with renewed energy and, by ransacking one of my hoses in search for a particular brass connector, I completed the job way ahead of dinner time and only $16 above budget.

The Test : find some clothes to wash and test the system. Beds were stripped and sheets gathered in a washing frenzy. I got my chair positioned on the verandah so I could see the water coming out as the cycle progressed. On the radio people were talking about how they had done just what I had and their lawns were green and damp. With a little splutter the moment had arrived - water was beginning to come out. Then it stopped before enough pressure built up to do more than dribble from the spray. I watched and waited... another dribble and then hey a bit of spray - that's the way, I thought. I watched that pipe for the whole cycle and do you know what? I reckon I have the most water-efficient washing machine in the world because it uses hardly any water! And guess what else? Yes, I remember now that that's why I bought that machine 12 year's ago - it IS the most water-efficient washing machine in the world and it will never keep any part of my garden alive. For that $16 I could have bought 16,000 litres of water and spent the afternoon in the pool !

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