When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

-- Benjamin Franklin

Our house is served by both municipal water and municipal sewer.

The City of Middleton operates its own water utility, with water being drawn from sandstone wells ranging in depth from 330 to 856 feet.  The city stores water in water towers (two of which are visible from our house) and reservoirs.  The city sewer is served by the Nine Springs treatment plan which is located south of the Beltline along South Towne Road in Madison.  See City of Middleton 2006 Comprehensive Plan, chapter 6, for details.

We will measure our success at conserving water by whether or not we can reduce our purchase of water from the utility.  We will compare the usage data from our previous house.  Keeping plumbing systems maintained and making a conscious effort to reduce water use are important.  In addition, there are two primary methods that we are employing in our house to reduce water use.

Water Conserving Fixtures

Homes with high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances save about 30% of indoor water use and yield substantial savings on water, sewer, and energy bills.  (Source)

Low Flow Shower Heads and Faucets

All shower heads and faucets are "low flow" by design or have "low flow" aerators installed.  Many of these fixtures are labeled with the EPA WaterSense mark.  We also have just one shower head per shower, as multiple shower heads, nozzles, or jets increase water use.

Dual Flush Toilets

The standard toilet in the US uses 1.6 gallons per flush, and there is just one kind of flush. The toilets we have installed give the user a choice -- do you need a full flush (for #2) or do you need a half flush (just #1).  The half flush uses only 0.8 gallons.  The dual flush toilet can save up to 68% of a traditional toilet's water usage.  Dual-flush toilets are very common in Australia and in Europe.

As you can see the toilet looks like a normal toilet, but the flush mechanism is different.


Rain Water Reclamation

To reduce our dependence on the municipal water supply for outdoor watering, Avant Gardening installed a 1500 gallon collection basin for rain water that runs off the roof. At each downspout, drain tile is buried to channel water to this basin. The basin is in the back yard.

Instead of burying a tank, our storage is constructed with a buried liner and "AquaBlox" modules. These modular blocks are made of recycled material and ship efficiently, and are assembled on-site. A total of 48 AquaBlox modules were required for our tank.


With the AquaBlox installed on a base of gravel, the entire tank is covered.

In the spring, a pump will be installed to distribute the water to spigots located at all corners of the house. The only winterization associated with this system will be to remove the pump assembly.