Geoff Walton – Director of Facilities – The Cape Eleuthera Foundation
I would not exist without water. All the water that I use to drink, wash, cook and flush my toilet with comes from the sky which is collected off of the roof of the building I live in and stored in a subterranean cistern (or more like an underground bunker for my water). I take water storage seriously.
The cistern where my water is stored consists of a concrete box, 2 feet thick on all side to make sure it does not crack and resides underneath my apartment building to keep the light out and to help it stay at a stable temperature to make sure algae does not grow in it. It is fed by four downspouts that are connected to the roof on my building and has an overflow pipe should it ever rain enough to completely fill the cistern so that water does not overflow into the living room. The living room (or more accurately my downstairs neighbors living room as I live in the upstairs apartment) has an inspection hatch that I can open to check the level of the water, or more often is the case, the of lack of water. I try to use a maximum of 10 gallons of water every day. There are nine of us living in our apartment building in four different units, collectively we use about 90 gallons of water used each day for the whole building. The average American uses between 75-100 gallons of water per person per day! This means a family of five can use upwards of 500 gallons of water each day! This equals about 5 ½ days of water for our whole building.
Mind you, we could conserve even more water by getting rid of our indoor plumbing but I am not into roughing it that hard, so we have installed dual flush toilets (to help manage those light loads) and ultra water conserving shower heads that have flow rates of 1.25 gallons per minute. I have no dishwasher, no lawn to water (all landscaping is native vegetation that is suited to the local marine climate), do not take baths, only showers. I have chosen this lifestyle because the alternative for me is buy water generated by reverse osmosis that costs almost $1 per gallon not to mention that is has a low pH, is devoid of all minerals and actually will start to suck the minerals out of my body. Plus I like the taste of sweet, clean and free rainwater.
I recently saw a news article for a vending machine in New York City that only dispenses dirty water. It was actually an ad campaign called TAP PROJECT by UNICEF to raise awareness for the poor water quality that millions of people around the world have to drink to stay alive and to raise funds to provide safe and sanitary water to children around the world. And all I have to worry about it is if my water bottle is BPA free. www.tapproject.org