My water tank is dry :-(
Since the nice people from the Queensland Water Commission are releasing water from Wivenhoe, they've granted us luckly South East Queenslanders a week to go crazy with our water usage. 'Yay' thought I .. might actually wash the car. Until .. "Unitywater wishes to advise customers that water usage charges still apply during the period".
However, if your water company is like ours, the cost of the actual water is peanuts. About 80 percent of the water bill is infrastructure and you pay that whether you use water or not. Unless someone has info to the contrary (and I have not checked the Water Commission website if there still is one) there are no limits to usage. If you wanted to fill up your tank I don't see why you couldn't ... we're going to wash our path and driveway which have turned dark grey from goodness-knows-what pollution and fungus perhaps since we were last able to do that, a couple or more years ago.
I used to think a 1000L rainwater tank was huge. Now I wish I had installed a 2000L one.
According to my latest Allconnex bill, the price for a kL of water is ... $2.70! Unless I'm wrong, 1 kL = 1000L. I could fill up my water tank for less than a cost of a latte.
My point exactly, Joseph. Whingeing about the price of water is a waste of energy. The real cost is the infrastructure.
The other aspect is the business of spending time and energy irrigating. Better I think that the water is to hand when the plants need it. I have a 3,000 litre tank and use a Leaky Hose system -- and when I did my water budget for the year -- a very worthy exercise -- I was going to be short for several months. But not as short as I became this last month! So while I've been trench and strip mulching galore I'm now reliant on the mains. If you do the figures you need a lot of water to sustain your through Winter in SE Qld.I'm finding now that shading is another element I can deploy to preserve water. The irony is that below my feet are aquifers I can plunder if I get a Spear Pump....Thats' my next project when I have the money. Aquifers in sand -- which is the main water business of the Moreton Bay sand islands -- offer a means to re-wet the sponge as water on sand soaks away instantly.It's not quite like a normal water table and here where I live, many houses have spear pumps and the stains on their walls to prove that they water.The tragedy of using mains water for irrigation is that outside of water restrictions there is no encouragement to reduce your consumption and they've fiddled the bills so that you pay up big anyway.It's very frustrating.I've got solar and love it as each year I'm ahead with electricity but with water the options are not so straightforward outside, of course, water restriction periods.I also think it's problematic drowning gardens with town water which is harvested, stored, processed and piped over such long distances to be sprinkled back on dirt.So as a hypothesis, in my budget I worked out that I needed to harvest over 6,000 litres(preferably 9,000) per year to balance my water budget. But when you do the figures, it doesn't make economic sense to invest in such an outlay. So something stinks in all this...something rotten is happening in the driest continent on earth.
And yet if you read Colin Austen's hypothesis, there is enough water for all coming from the sky. Go to Waterright and see if Colin's figures make sense to you. He's a proponent of the wicking bed system which I reckon is close to ideal especially on sand (or a slope as my garden is).
The leaky hoses emit way too much water for the midget barrel system I had - 30 L drums emptied in about 10 minutes. It was instructive to do a comparison of the amount of water coming out of the tank pump and the mains and that's as close to a 'water budget' as I could come.
The closer to ideal is as you are doing, adding stuff into the soil to hold water and shading. I am moving ever closer to shading at least the vege patch, it needs more shade than I have currently and I'm working on that one. Most of my watering has so far come from 2 tanks with a total capacity of 6000L, I use it exclusively on the edibles. Had I the room I could have more tanks, even a modest house like this one can produce an incredible amount of water most of which goes to waste. Imagine if all buildings, especially industrial buildings with their huge roof areas, harvest most of the water which fell on them ... you would never need to drink recycled sewage. If only.
I use a 100 Litre drum(pictured) to water two beds (roughly 1 metre by 5-6 metres) via Leaky hose irrigation. That way I can ration my output and generally that can be a watering of that nature once per week -- less often if the rains come. The deciding factors with Leaky are the height of the drum -- gravity -- and the tap gauge I use. So I can slow the flow rate by fiddling with a few variables.
But I'm still trying to master the method and I couldn't rule absolutely that I have perfected my water budgeting. But the Wicking and the Leaky logic is what I'm trying to engineer -- ie to get the dirt to do all the work if H20 is in cooee. But as I suggested, I'm thinking more about what I can do above the soil and the mulch to create a cooler and less thirsty microclimate. I now call sections of my veg/fruit tree garden:
..and see what gives.
Great little drum - a 'green-shed' special? I've seen them around. One thing which I noted with my gardens is a low amount of organic matter. I never seem to have enough and have started cover cropping to help it along. The trench mulching you do with the newspapers has promise and I'm about to embark on that as well. Not only do I never have enough I reckon you could hardly ever have too much anyway, it disappears quite speedily in the heat. Have you tried Biochar? I'm using it in the compost so it's gradually making its way into the soil. A slow process but it's quite alkaline so slowly is best.
The simplest way to store water is in the soil but when that soil is sand or on a slope, it becomes more of a challenge. Bit by bit we're meeting that challenge!
Yes I was hoping that because we rely solely on tank water that we might be granted one free delivery!! Appears not - and what a waste of water just letting it flow down the river!!