Monday, June 8, 2009

Ten things I learned at Brad Lancaster's hands-on water workshop in Austin

Here are ten things I learned from attending Brad Lancaster's hands on rainwater / gray water workshop in Austin.

1. Sometimes lead and copper is showing up in air conditioning condensate having leached out of solder and other components. But some manufacturers avoid using lead and are more careful with their use of copper, so their condensate is lead and copper free. The good manufacturers need to be encouraged while we need to let the other manufacturers know that we care about this issue so that they will change.

2. We are really rainwater rich in South Texas. Brad feels like we have a great opportunity to use our runoff and rainwater let alone our condensate.

3. We have so much rainwater,that we probably don't need to try to capture water from streets for our own property, although for street trees on public right of way, diverted street water is a good use. The water from streets though usable is not as clean as that captured on soil.

4. Hand watering will always be more water efficient than drip irrigation because with a drip system you will be watering plants that don't need it. Of course either is more water efficient than broadcast watering.

5. Some products with ecology friendly names use lye or salt and should be avoided if you have a gray water system.

6. It isn't as difficult as it seems to calculate the water coming into our property. "Think like a raindrop" he said. The drop doesn't care about the slope, just the amount of ground covered by a roof.

7. Surprisingly some studies indicate that quality of rainwater collected off an asphalt roof is not significantly different from that collected from a metal roof.

8. Some septic tanks are made with a WR Grace product DARACEM 100 which includes Formaldehyde-naphthalenesulfonic acid polymer sodium salt among other things you don't want in your water. So quiz your manufacturer before you buy a septic tank to store water.

9. Making an earthen berm structure to capture water and allow it to soak in is not nearly as complicated as I thought.

10. I want a backyard community dojo like the Welch sisters have.

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