Save money by watering plants with laundry water

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ask Vaul Demar Kranak and Kelsey Vaughan how their garden grows, and you will get an interesting answer. A load of whites, a load of colors and a shot of laundry water.

“This is a laundry-to-landscape system,“ Kranak said as he showed 3TV how his washing machine drain is hooked up. "The idea is instead of throwing our water down the drain and paying Tempe to take it away, we are instead putting it directly to our trees.”

Using laundry water to water plants is an idea Tempe residents can use to really clean up.

“We will reimburse homeowners up to 50 percent of the cost to install the gray water harvesting system, up to $200," said city spokeswoman Melissa Quillard.

Quillard said the city hopes to dramatically reduce water usage over the next five years.

“The city of Tempe recently adopted a new water conservation goal that we hope will conserve more than 600 million gallons of water a year by the year 2020," Quillard said.

Kranak likes that it saves water for all of us and money for him.

“I know as a new homeowner, one of the first things that shocked me when I got my first water bill was not only was I paying for water to come into my house, but I was also paying for it to go out," he said.

With the help of Watershed Management Group, he had a system set up in one morning.

“This is the pipe that normally goes down the sewer. We just hooked it up to a ball valve,” Kranak showed 3TV. "If we go like this, it is going to the sewer; go like this, it is going to the plants.”

Ryan Wood with Watershed Management says the system is best for ornamental plants and fruit or nut trees.

“A fruit tree is a perennial fibrous type of plant and the fruit is above the gray water, so thinking of that scenario is what you want to follow," Wood said.

Yes, the water is gray coming out of the laundry, but it is plenty fresh before reaching the fruit.

“The plants can clean the water, and no part of the gray water is going to get into your fruit," Wood said.

And you don't have to do laundry at certain times. The mulched ground acts like a sponge, holding the water as needed.

”The important part is that you are covering that soil and holding that moisture in the ground longer, so that way it is stored for the plants when they are ready to uptake that moisture," Wood said.

And the savings go beyond water. Kranak will have fresh fruit for the table and lots of shade on his west wall, saving energy.

And he says it is an idea anyone can use to wring some extra dollars out of every load.

“I think in the long run, it is going to save you a lot of money and it is going to make you happier," he said.

For more about the rebate available in Tempe, visit www.tempe.gov/consevration.

For more information on Watershed Management Group, visit www.watershedmg.org.