Water harvesting and conservation

As part minimising the impact of our house and lifestyle, conserving water is just as important as conserving energy. Indeed, if we consider that it takes energy to clean, move (pump), and then dispose of water, saving water goes hand in hand with saving energy.

Features we have to minimise our water use are:

  • using a wetland-pond area for recycling household greywater (subject of a future blog)
  • water-saving shower and tap fittings
  • a compost toilet (previous blog entry)
  • green (living) rooves (previous blog entry)
  • rainwater collectors (rainwater harvesting)

For a full list of the house features you can visit this previous blog entry

Although Japan has plenty of rainfall (on average, about double that of the UK), from a gardener’s point of view, there are often long tough periods without rain. May of this year (2015) for example was particularly dry, and after the June rainy season, will probably be as usual; very hot, humid, and dry.

It is during these times that one really appreciates how much water is needed to grow food, something that consumers  are often not aware of when they buy imported greens or meat from relatively dry countries – Australia, Africa etc. The consequence is that we can accumulate very large hidden water footprints – embedded or virtual water. In the worse cases, we may be contributing indirectly to water stress in other countries that are exporting food and other consumables with large amounts of embedded water.

A good site to get an idea of the water footprints of different products you can visit sites such as:

Returning to the water saving features. To help save water consumption in the garden, we collect as much rainwater as possible. During very dry spells, I use up to 80 litres per day watering. A more sophisticated way to tackle this problem however is to use more efficient watering methods than the simple watering can. These include drip feed irrigation or clay pot irrigation that have the potential to cut water use by up to 70%.

Happy rainy season.


About ifd66

From UK and living in Japan. I am very interested in sustainable development and in general ecology and conservation issues and solutions. Finished building a low impact family house in Shiga, Japan in 2013 and am now focused on using permaculture to develop our plot of land into a more sustainable, productive, and attractive space. My hope is that this blog is useful to those interested in similar issues and way of life.
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4 Responses to Water harvesting and conservation

  1. Paul says:

    I like the idea of using old baths and rubbish bins etc. I checked out prices for tanks made specifically for collecting rain water and found that the cost of the tanks, the foot printing and all considered, it was probably better just to use tap water for several years with systems already in place. Then we were given some large old containers and the whole equation turned back in favour of collecting rain water. There seems to be a lot of options around for holding water, so it is not always necessary to buy new tanks. Although admittedly they do hold some nice features like taps and secure lids, etc, which are worth considering.


  2. ifd66 says:

    Thanks Paul as always for your feedback. Yes, any option that doesn’t involve buying NEW has got to be a good option. The green ones we bought in the UK and were shipped over with the house stuff before the build. Cost around 3.000en each and from 100% recycled plastic. A similar sized one in Japan I saw at the time was around 10x the cost. Not a mainstream product here still.


  3. Amy says:

    Hi there! I am putting together a little bookazine (not quite a book, not quite a magazine) about eco homes being created around the world…would love to include your story. Can you please drop me a line if you might be interesting in being involved?


    • ifd66 says:

      Hi Ami – thank you for for considering our project for your bookazine. Yes, I’d be interested in being involved. Let me know how I can contribute.


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