How much water?


   I remember an old western movie in which the town experienced a water shortage. A vigilante group brought out a woman who had used what little water there was to wash her hair. “But it was dirty,” she protested. If I remember correctly, they promptly cut off her hair or otherwise doled out justice, Old West style.

   As Cedar Rapids residents were asked to restrict their water usage in the wake of floods that have devastated some parts of the city, many jumped on board to do what they could, while others apparently ignored the plea to conserve.

   Those restrictions have been relaxed, as of today, allowing short showers, and dishwashing and laundry to be done on odd days if your address is odd-numbered, and on even days for even-numbered addresses, from what I’m told.

   Still, it’s interesting to see how resourceful we could be during this crisis. I’ve found that water from my full dehumidifier is enough to “flush” the toilet once. And although a once a day flush may be a little extreme in the long-term, at least I’ve found a new use for the “gray water.” If anyone has other suggestions – I know people were using rainwater for the same thing – please add your comments below.



The following on water usage comes from the 


 Agricultural Water Management Council:



  Brush your teeth – 2 to 5 gallons


  Wash the car – 50 gallons


  Use the dishwasher – 8 to 15 gallons


  Flush the toilet – 1.5 to 4 gallons (each flush)


  Take a shower or bath – 17 to 24 gallons


  Run the washing machine – 35 to 50 gallons (each load)


  Eat lunch, chicken sandwich – 215.1 gallons


  Drink a glass (8 oz.) of orange juice – 49.1 gallons


  Eat dinner, lasagna, salad, and garlic bread 470 gallons




2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Matt said,

    My wife and I used the water from our rain barrels to do a load of laundry. The garden won’t need it anytime soon. 🙂

    We put the dehumidfier water in a large stockpot and dipped dishes into it to rinse them after washing them. We also warmed the same water on the stove top to wash the dishes.

    We didn’t waste any water by dumping a pee bucket straight on the compost pile ala The Humanure Handbook.

    I was prepared to take a bath in the rain barrel water but it didn’t come to that yet.

  2. 2

    Cindy said,

    Thanks for the suggestions, Matt. Another person suggested a way to shorten showers, which he called “Navy showers,” a method also used in Europe. Basically, you wet yourself down in the shower, shut it off; soap up and shampoo while the water isn’t running and then turn it back on to rinse off. We’re still expected to conserve water here in Cedar Rapids and even at other times, these ideas might be a good practice.

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