Photo Credit: Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star
This week, we wanted to share the story of Surevest clients Dr. Jennifer Hall and Dr. David Mount, two retired University of Arizona molecular and cellular biology professors that found an innovative solution to a problem that many Arizonans face in the summer – a high water bill. One month, while living in their Tucson home, Dr. Hall and Dr. Mount got a water bill that was much higher than usual. In fact, they had used about 25,000 gallons of water. They realized that they had to make drastic changes if they wanted to lower their water use.
Dr. Hall and Dr. Mount decided to get creative and use a combination of high-tech harvesting and ancient irrigation methods to significantly lower their water bill. The first thing the couple did was remove the majority of the rose bushes and fruit trees in their yard that required water every day. Next, they installed pumps, gutters, underground piping, and two tanks that store up to 8,000 gallons of collected rain water combined into their yard. Dr. Mount connected the tanks to a wireless network, allowing him to divert water from one tank to another, as well as deliver rain water under pressure to the garden. He also installed systems to send used water from the kitchen sinks and the washing machine to several fruit trees outside, while draining water from an outdoor shower to grape vines and rose bushes around the yard through underground pipes.
Although these solutions had already saved them a fair amount of water, Dr. Mount and Dr. Hall were looking for a low cost system to irrigate their remaining plants and their vegetable garden. Dr. Mount decided to experiment with ollas, which are porous containers made of unglazed clay that are buried next to the plants and used to irrigate them. When water is poured into the ollas, water seeps into the clay and the plants’ roots will grow toward it and around it, resulting in direct irrigation. The cost of this system is very low, and uses about six times less water than the traditional drip systems used in many yards.
Overall, through the use of the olla irrigation system and the tanks that store rain water, Dr. Mount and Dr. Hall have decreased their water use in their highest month by 14,000 gallons! They are not only saving money, but saving water in one of the driest states in the nation, as well as reducing the high energy cost of transporting the water to their home.
If you have any questions or are looking to implement some of their systems to your own yard, let us know and we’d be happy to pass along.
-Peter Bos, Intern, Surevest Private Wealth