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    We have a new service on Off-Grid. The Drain Brain is intended to be a witty, practical guide to off-grid water management. And also help us build a community of water experts who can helpe ach other and off-grid newbies.

    The first question that came in is combination of very technical and very simple:

    Hello, I am a architecture grad student at the University of Florida and for my thesis I am designing an economical, sustainable house designed specifically for Northeast Florida. I am very interested in off-grid water management strategies for my project. I have been running some preliminary numbers for water collection to see if it will be feasible for my project. I found that I can collect about 50-60,000 gallons of water per year (maximum). I was surprised to find how cheap water is from the grid. Still, I think the additional plumbing costs and the cost of a 1700-gallon cistern could be paid off within 5 years. My question is: Is 50,000-60,000 gallons enough rainfall for a typical household and if not, what strategies could I use to improve my efficiency so I can remain off-grid? Additionally, I haven’t even considered wastewater treatment on site – is this a possibility? Look forward to hearing your input. Thanks,


    My husband and I were pleasantyly surprised to find that we can survive on 1,500 gallons of water every 4 months. The biggest drain (hu-humm) on our water On Grid was the toilet. A composting toilet will run around $1,500, or alternately (and for MUCH less $$), you can compost it yourself on-site(there is a wonderful link on Humanure in another thread). Either way, you eliminate the need for watsewater treatment.

    We use the grey water from our showers, dishes and hand washing to water native vegitation. We are still doing laundry in town at a coin op facility, but there are new high effeciency washers that use 8 gal. of water or less per load. I would hang my clothes to dry more than using a conventional clothes dryer, I think, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet. Where we are located, winter conditions are harsh, and it might make more sense to hang wet clothes inside (to prevent freezing and raise the humidity in the house).

    I will see if I can find the solar water heater and the humanure handbooks that I was able to download and put those links here later.

    Best of luck to you!!

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