Texan Knocks Water Bill to $15 through Rain Capture

A woman who set-up a simple system to catch and purify rainwater from her rooftop says that she gathers nearly enough water to avoid using the tap in her Austin, Texas home.

Jody Grenga hopes to limit her use of tap water to only 800 gallons this month. Her previous record, is 1,020 gallons this June, compared to the average single person in the area who uses up to 3,000 gallons a month. Grenga can’t reach her goal without strong conservation techniques. She does not water her lawn, only does laundry every three weeks, and takes most showers at Barton Springs pool after her daily swim.

Grenga uses the rainwater to supply herself, her mother, and their seven cats with drinking water. “I consider it liquid gold that falls out of the sky,” she said. “I’ve had one glass of tap water in the past year.”

The rainwater is collected through pipes into 14 barrels that line the house’s perimeter. Grenga purchased the filtration and purification supplies at wholesale prices, so the cost of the system was limited to $168. The Austin Water Utility promotes private rain capture by selling barrels for $60, a deeply-discounted price. Last year they sold 1,500 barrels, but this year the utility says they’ve already sold at least as many.

Despite the recent storms hitting Texas, total rainfall for the Austin area is only a little over half what it normally is this year. But Grenga is not concerned because of her large storage capacity.

For anyone interested in building their own system, this PDF document is a helpful guide to creating rainwater barrels out of recycled materials.

Photo Credit: Akeg on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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  1. brian

    How is saving water by showering at the pool worthy of an article. She could be taking 30 minutes showers. We use our own water for showers. We cut the water off when we soap up and we collect the cold water while waiting for it to heat up. Write an article about us.

  2. Jay

    So, by showering at the pool, she’s not conserving anything at all, unless you count her pocketbook. The water is still being used from the municipal system, she’s just not paying for it on her home bill.

  3. Andy

    Guys… Barton Springs is a natural SPRING. It’s not your everyday chlorinated pool. Pretty sure the water at the pool comes directly from the spring, which is not tapped for public water supply in that area. So if not anything else, she’s avoiding the chemical additives and pharmaceuticals that are in our showers with city water.

  4. Eric

    Laundry every 3 weeks? WTH, how many clothes do you have…or is your smeller broken?!? Besides, doing 1 load a day or waiting and doing 21 loads in 1 day every 3 weeks IS THE SAME THING!
    Taking most showers some place else is not conservation, it’s cheap. It might make your water bill lower, but overall, the city is still using X amount. Helping yourself and not helping the community is not helping at all!

    …uses the rainwater to supply herself, her mother, and their seven cats with drinking water.
    Oh, I get it now…..crazy cat lady!

  5. Simon

    “It’s illegal in Colorado to catch rain.”

    Actually the law changed recently in Colorado you can now collect rainwater that falls on your property for personal use.

    Now If I could just install my wind turbine in El Paso County…

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