3 Methods for Water Conservation

One of the major reasons clients choose to incorporate interior landscaping in their buildings is environmental concern. People are aware of how important plants are in creating healthy environments and how they can even help buildings earn competitive environmental certifications. For businesses that want to project a concern for the environment interior landscaping is a natural fit and many of your clients will be inclined to invest in measures that take their care for the environment a step further. Clean water is becoming more scarce and people are beginning to try new ways to conserve and reuse this precious resource. As an interior landscaper there are three methods for reusing water you can use in you own operation. You can also encourage your clients to consider these methods for irrigating plantscapes and supplying water features.

1) Gray WaterGray Water Garden

Gray water is the water that has been used once, but is not contaminated so much that is cannot be used again for purposes other than drinking water. For example, water used to wash hands, clothes or dishes are all sources of gray water. An excellent use for gray water is irrigation of non-edible plants. Gray water use is increasing in popularity and there are several levels of sophistication for creating systems to capture and to use the water that will fit your specific situation.

2) Condensate Water

When moisture in the air touches a cooler surface water droplets form called condensation. While running frequently during hot days air conditioners produce a significant amount of condensation. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a household air conditioning unit can create up to 20 gallons of water per day while larger buildings can produce up to 10 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet per day. This can add up to 15,000 gallons of water per year. In most cases the water is collected as it drips and runs into a pipe that connects to the sewage line, but it could be easily rerouted to a holding tank. The water is not usable for drinking water (because of its exposure to the metals in the air conditioning unit) however, condensate water is very similar in quality to distilled water and would be ideal for irrigation or use in water features because of the lack  of minerals. Using this water would be an easy way to avoid harmful and unsightly salt build up.

3) Rainwater Collection

Rainwater is a natural resource that is easy to collect. It is relatively uncontaminated and free from harmful salts and therefore perfect for irrigation. Capturing rainwater is especially helpful in urban areas which are more densely covered with impervious surfaces such as concrete. These surfaces create more run-off where the flowing water can pick up contaminants as it moves through storm sewer systems and into local water bodies where it pollutes lakes and streams. Systems of gutters and pipes can be installed on a roof that will route the water into a catchment tank. The size and sophistication of the tank depends on the expected amount of rainwater and the intended use of the rainwater. Some rainwater harvesting systems even use a picturesque water feature as a filtration system instead of a large tank. Texas A&M Extension provides specific information regarding rainwater harvesting, including calculators that will estimate how much rainwater you can harvest from your roof. Rainwater systems are also ideal for drip irrigation as the outputs typically do not have much pressure. Depending on the level of sophistication, rainwater harvesting systems can be an expensive investment, but they conserve a very valuable resource and prevent pollution of local water systems.

Whether you choose to use alternative water sources for your operations or if you encourage your clients to invest in environmentally conscience methods for irrigating plantscapes you need to be aware of the all of the options. Growing and maintaining plants can be a water-intensive endeavor, but these three conservation and reuse methods offer ways to care for plants and local water systems. Do you or your clients use any alternative methods for irrigating plantscapes?

Photo “Gray Water Garden” courtesy of Jeremy Levine

Photo “My tank runneth over” courtesy of Jan Smith

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