The source of our water here in the Bay Area is the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
It can rain all it likes here, but if it doesn't snow in Lake Tahoe we're all in trouble. This past week's snowfall up there was likely the last of the season and brings the total depth of snow to 55 feet (!) This is about twice the average.
Water conservation has been a pretty big deal around here for a while now. In fact, we in the East Bay did such a good job of using less water, that the local water district needs to raise our rates because we failed to reach expected demand.
So, now with the rates rising, we are ironically thinking about water conservation even in the face of an almost unprecedented surplus.
When we moved in, we had ideas about greywater systems to divert waste water from the sinks and shower for use on the lawn and garden. These systems can be expensive and are difficult to engineer. We opted instead for an easy first step.
This simple system allows us to water our garden using water from our washing machine. We use a laundry soap formulated for this purpose.
We got this used oak wine barrel from somebody advertising on Craigslist. I built a base for it using ancient redwood found in the backyard. There's a submersible pump in there which gives us enough pressure to shoot water about 20 feet. If you wanted a machine for terrorizing cats, this would be a good start.
There are just a couple of problems with this set up. One is: our high efficiency washing machine is just too efficient. One load of wash is barely enough to water a couple of trees. The other issue is that the water, when it's coming out of the hose, smells an awful lot like French wine and dirty laundry. C'est la vie.