Every drop of water has a second use as tank water properties run dry

Grey water from the washing machine goes on the young fruit tree.

STANDING in a bowl under a one-minute shower is now a reality for many residents of the Coffs Coast hinterland as their water tanks run dry after no good rain for the past six months and El Niño declared.

The bowl water is then used to flush the loo, feed the veggie patch or mop, kitchen floor and wipe clean the dusty car’s number plate.

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Water cartage is costly and takes anything from a week to a month to secure a delivery, meaning every drop is precious when it does arrive.

John and Jen, who’ve lived in Nana Glen for over 40 years, have long been carefully watching the level of water in their two tanks as they drank, showered and flushed their toilets.

They have preserved their water supplies to last until after Christmas, they predict, but others in the village have been less vigilant, with much less water in supply.

A spluttering tap or hose pipe is the sign that signals water is so low it’s about the run out.

Tapping your tank to hear the water level or climbing up to look in are other tried and trusted checks.

Having a water management plan, making them habits, being frugal and recycling is what the long-time older residents suggest.

“Every drop of tank water has a second use,” Jen told News Of The Area, who has become a water recycling master over her years of rural living.

“It’s hard work lifting the heavy buckets and bowls for their second use, but it’s got to be done,” said the stoic 70-year-old.

John and Jen started being extra vigilant with their water a couple of months ago when they heard Bureau of Meteorology reports that it was going to be a hard dry summer.

“I saw the bottle brush had come out into full bloom, too,” said John.

That means two things.

“One is that all the trees are expecting rain to come, but the other reason I think it’s happening this year is that the flowers are coming out because they’re sucking up every little tiny bit of water they can get that’s left in the ground to come in to flower, to propagate themselves,” he said.

The couple wound down two of their veggie gardens and are doing final harvests on the remaining garden which John is maintaining with shower water and unused water from the dog’s bowl.

“The shower is our only decadence, but we’ve learned how to do it in less than two minutes standing in a big container,” said Jen, who has established strict shower days in the home.

Other tips are to close off the cistern and use recycled water to flush the loo once a day, and attaching the washing machine’s outgoing grey-water pipe to a large tub which you can dip into for floor mopping and watering the garden, any wiping or washing that can be done with second-use water.

Being frugal is a way of life says Doug, who provides horse agistment as a sideline on his land in Nana Glen and has only ever lived on properties supplied by rainwater tanks.

“Horses drink around 50 litres a day, cattle are around 100 litres per animal,” Doug Told NOTA.

“Our dams are fine but if it’s an extended dry period then the dams will run dry eventually.

“It’s going to be a long hard summer but if it’s going to rain at all it’s going to be over summer,”

“We’ve only lived here three years, they were all wet years, when we bought the place we couldn’t look at it for eight weeks because we couldn’t get past the creek.”

That creek is now a dry rock.

“We bought our first water load this year.”

Being frugal is Doug’s advice.

“Where you can use other sources of water (recycled) for things like flushing the toilet, that’s saving you a huge amount.

“Our washing machine uses creek water so within the system it goes back onto the paddock.

“You need the water to eat and drink, that’s something you can’t change.

“We can’t drink the dams and we can’t drink the creek, so we have to buy water.

“Have shorter showers and maybe do the old school way of everyone goes through the same bathtub water, then you put it out on your fruit trees,” said Doug.


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