Water still scarce; barrels still cool

I just returned from a little trip up north, where I sat in a chair for several hours a day looking at a lake, except when it was raining. I was feeling, therefore, well-watered. This feeling ended when I came home and could plainly see that my house had gotten little or no rain while we were gone. The grass has that starting-to-dry-out look, and some potted veggie plants out back were rather wilted. Perhaps the Central Virginia drought season has returned.

Good timing, then, for a reminder from Paige Mattson at the Blue Ridge Eco Shop: Both Albemarle and Charlottesville will rebate you 30 bucks if you buy a rain barrel. (You can actually get $60 if you buy two barrels.) Paige gives links to the forms you need to fill out to collect your money; you can buy a barrel from her or anywhere you like, and the local government will help you out until their grant money is gone.

She also mentions a water conservation class, July 25 at the Habitat Store, which you should go to because it’s free and will get you up to speed on how to make the most of that rain barrel on which you just got a rebate.

We all need to figure out which parts of our water usage do not actually require tap water (flushing toilets, watering plants, washing the damn car) and look for other water sources. We’re still in a drought, and UVA’s water usage is going up. I haven’t yet installed an official rain barrel at my house, I’ll admit, but I have used extra garbage cans to capture gutter-flow and have also saved dishwater and cooking water for the garden. It takes some getting used to.

Anyone want to chime in on their own water-harvesting schemes? What have you tried, and how well has it worked?

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