Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Water Management

July has been a month of water for me. My year-long adventure focus for July has been to reduce my water use (I will give an update on that sometime later this week!) so at home I have had water (and how to use less) on my mind. The class I am teaching this summer focused on water for the first few weeks of the term, so I have been watching water documentaries and teaching students about water use and management. And, in less exciting news, it has been the rainiest July on record here in Portland, so I am literally living and breathing water this month.
A couple weeks ago, I took my class to the Portland wastewater treatment facility for a field trip. I had been there several times prior, but this time it really hit home how much energy was being used to clean dirty water. Some of that water is definitely dirty (ewww), but a lot of the water that makes it to the wastewater facility is water that fell and ran off someone's roof, or water that never really got that dirty to begin with. Now, I am in no way advocating that we stop cleaning our wastewater, just that we should try and produce less of it. We should manage our stormwater so it doesn't go to the treatment facility, and re-use water when we can.
Here is a photo of the wastewater treatment plant. It is amazing how much energy goes into cleaning up our dirty water.
Saw this on a storm water management field trip! What a great way to use water from a disconnected downspout. I want one!
Here is an amazing ecoroof on Portland's Multnomah County building. We are up on the 5th floor. Finn and I had lunch there last week. He thought it was pretty rad. Awesome views of the city, and of planes!

There are lots of other ways to manage stormwater, including bioswales and rainbarrels, and lots of ways to reduce the water we use (like composting toilets and greywater systems). And I love that I live in a city where these types of water management systems are in place. If I had money at my expense to create my dream homestead, it would certainly include a huge rain cistern, an ecoroof, a composting toilet and a greywater recycling system. But, as I live in a small house on a small city lot with little disposable income, these things aren't feasible (as they aren't for most Americans). We do have a bioswale (which is basically a ditch with water-loving plants in it that my disconnected downspout runs into), and we do a bit of our own water recycling. But that eco-roof is just going to have to wait.

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  1. I love the idea of planters using 'waste water' in such a cool artistic way- love it.
    We live in the desert so water conservation is extra important to us-I try to never just 'dump' water out- I always make the effort to water my plants- even with the cooled water from boiling potatoes or pasta.

  2. i learned a lot about water management at a Texas Parks and Wildlife Project Wild and Project Wild Aquatic training I went to last week. SOOOOOO interesting. and important!

  3. That downspout is gorgeous! I want one!

    We have a rain barrel and we're in the process of turning a natural ditch in our yard into a bioswale. I'm a stickler about water conservation, and I am tempted to put a green roof on our new addition. We shall see!