Rain is greening up Southern California.
It’s wonderful. Green. Before the next round of drought and water restrictions starts, I want to say my piece. Brown is not the new green. We need green spots in the city, especially with all the brown lawns.
We need spots where children can play,
and people can breathe. Places where dogs can run on the grass, and those with disabilities can have a day of serenity, outside of the facility. The cement and linoleum facility. We need places where people who can’t afford gym memberships can work out. Where parents who don’t want to leave their children for yet another hour or three, can work out. And city parks have always been those places.
We need places with shade,
where mothers and grandmothers with young children can take them to play in the quiet mornings. When older children are in school, and young adults are sleeping off the night before and are not yet out in the park.
Before the rain ends and the temps heat up, we need to start addressing our water problems.
We need better solutions.
Gray water filtration systems for irrigation and toilet flushing. Desalination plants – there’s an ocean out there. There are so many options for solutions. So many low-cost solutions. It’s time to put our water needs above corporate greed. We need our urban oasis.
So is brown the new green? I think not! Cities in Southern California are covering their greenscapes with brown mulch chips and putting out cute little signs proclaiming “brown is the new green”, encouraging people to change their landscaping over to brown mulch chips, dirt and rocks.
Well, it’s not pretty in Phoenix or Palm Desert, and it’s not pretty in the city. Coming from the Northern Arizona area, where it is very dry and it is a struggle to get anything to grow, brown is not green in any way, shape or form. Brown is brown. It’s dirt. Dirt blows around and makes the air all dusty. Green absorbs carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses and converts them back into oxygen, which it puts back into the air. As our city’s air quality gets worse, due to supposed global warming, it is not more brown, but more green that is needed to convert the greenhouse gasses caused by our asphalt, concrete, and industry back into oxygen. More green, not less.
Now, I’m not advocating water-hogging lawns. But trees, shade, drought tolerant plants, lavender, food plants, fruit trees. Even though fruit trees and vegetable gardens use a lot of water, they are also giving back in the form of food, edibles. Herbs and flowers are also useful, as well as attractive. That’s much more efficient than a lawn. I’m also not advocating getting rid of green grass entirely, just cut back on it. We took a walk down in the beach cities a couple of days ago and a lot of homes had strips of grass in geometric patterns on their driveways. Instead of front lawns. And it looked great!
Do we really need so many golf courses? At the expense of letting our public parks go brown? I do not see that as heroic, nor as conserving water. We have the technology to inexpensively filter gray water into irrigation water. With all the hotels, homes, and businesses with copious amounts of gray water, there would be more than enough to filter and recycle back to flushing toilets and watering public greenspaces, as well as golf courses. Why not give tax credits to retrofit homes and businesses to filter and recycle their gray water?
So what are solutions to brown is the new green? Well, we water on our watering days, we reuse graywater, with one of the many legal systems, several of which can be installed by the homeowner without any permits required. And, if you run the gray water through a bucket of sand and gravel, it takes out a lot of the junk that is not so good for the plants and the lawn that you’re watering. Doing dishes and washing veggies in a dishpan and dumping that water on the yard. Putting in drought tolerant plants and using that brown (or red, or green) mulch. Or even the free mulch that Calmet gives away several times a year. Retrofitting your home with a gray water recycling system.
What would your suggest?
What do you do when water doesn’t run through the pipes? We’re getting lots of practice with that one right now. Most people on city water just turn on the faucet and are rewarded with a pressurized flow. Out in the country and on the road, however, things get a little bit different.
At the Arizona homestead, we haul water and pump it into a 2500 gallon storage tank. From there, it runs through pipes to the water pump, then the pressure tank, and ultimately, the house. Unless a pipe breaks. Or the main valve breaks. Luckily, the main valve broke in the closed position. Unfortunately, the tank was full at the time. Consequently, I have not yet replaced the valve, mainly because that would involve draining all the water. Therefore, at the moment, we are filling jugs from the tank, for use in the house. This begets a whole new, yet old, definition of running water.
Kitchen sink supply:
We have even splurged on a down-home swimming pool:
Still, the tank remains half-full. We’ll get there. Makes for good water conservation practices.
In the mobile homestead when water doesn’t run, due to a dead battery or converter, as is currently the case, we do pretty much the same thing. We just refill our water jugs from the drain valve on the fresh water tank.
Kitchen sink supply:
So all this has me thinking about what we would do at the urban homestead when water doesn’t run. First we would need a water supply. Probably 55 gallon drums. Then the rest would be just as above. We would simply have to train our city family to reuse the gray water for flushing and such. But probably, if it came to it, they would do just fine.
What will you do when water doesn’t run?