Water is a problem in urban and rural areas. Many households still lack piped water, but how do you live without indoor plumbing?
You can adopt a dry cabin water system, which simply means looking for alternative water sources.
Living without an indoor plumbing system is the life of an off-gridder. You need to fetch water from the source, draw it from the well, or harvest rainwater to meet your needs.
We present six solutions to water problems in this post. Keep reading for more details.
- Can You Live Without Indoor Plumbing?
- 6 Ideas To Deal With Water Problems When Living Without Indoor Plumbing
- Facts About Living Without Indoor Plumbing In The US
- Some Thoughts
Can You Live Without Indoor Plumbing?
Yes. Living off the grid without a proper indoor plumbing system is possible, but you will have to endure the consequences.
This can mean having to take more time to fetch water or prepare to work. Sometimes you have to refill the water storage tank every week, meaning introducing weekly expenses.
Water is needed to maintain hygiene, wash your clothes, take a bath, clean utensils, drink, or sometimes water your garden and livestock.
Without indoor plumbing, you need to fetch water for laundry or take water to the bathroom every morning.
Without tap water on your property, you may need to carry water in buckets into your home every day. Alternatively, you may dig a borehole where you draw water for domestic consumption.
You have to be prepared for the limited supply, the time needed, and the energy required for fetching water.
6 Ideas To Deal With Water Problems When Living Without Indoor Plumbing
Living off the grid means you won’t be depending on the local government for water supply.
But since you cannot live without it, you must find ways of getting it. Different means of getting water without indoor plumbing exist that can make your life easier, including:
- Create a rainwater collection system and store them in crates.
- Moving water from the source to your cabin.
- A drilled well, a hand-operated pump outside.
- Make use of lake water for laundry.
- Use a composting toilet or outhouse.
- Save water.
Create A Rainwater Collection System and Store Them In Crates
You can collect rainwater for free right at your doorstep when it rains.
If you live in an area not severely affected by droughts, rainwater can meet your family’s water needs. That is possible with water tanks and reservoirs.
Rainwater harvesting requires water storage solutions. You should buy water barrels, water tanks, or create an underground reservoir.
With that in place, you need a gutter system to channel rainwater into the storage unit.
The number of water barrels or capacity of water tanks you buy depends on your water requirements and the weather pattern.
You probably don’t need high-capacity water tanks or large reservoirs in an area that receives a lot of rainfall.
The harvested rainwater can be used for virtually everything. You can do laundry, bathe, water the garden and livestock, and do general cleaning.
Purified and treated rainwater can also be used for drinking if collected in food-grade water barrels or tanks.
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Moving Water From The Source To Your Cabin
This must be the most tedious approach to living off the grid without tapped water, especially if you have to cover many miles to reach the water source.
It will take much of your time and energy, often leaving you exhausted to handle other tasks.
It begins by identifying the source of freshwaters such as streams, ponds, lakes, or rivers nearby. You can also fetch water from the ocean if you know how to remove the salinity.
The next consideration is how you will haul the water to your off-grid cabin.
Many off-gridders just carry sizable water cans on their heads or shoulders, while some use donkeys or bikes.
And since you won’t be fetching the water whenever you want to use it, you need storage containers. Create a weekly routine to haul water so that you don’t get inconvenienced.
Water fetched from the source can also be used for all domestic needs. However, it should be filtered and treated before using it to water livestock or drinking.
You may also need to soften it for laundry and other uses.
A Drilled Well- A Hand Operated Pump Outside
Drilling well on your property is the best way to ensure you have a constant water supply throughout the year.
Apart from the high upfront cost, a well is a reliable source of water for domestic use. You can hand-drill your well or borehole if you don’t have the budget, but you may fail to get to the water table.
Getting water out of the well is also another challenge you will have to deal with. Some people simply pull water out using a rope and a bucket, which can be tiresome and time-consuming.
Consider installing hand-operated or solar water pumps for drawing water.
If you have a well, you will not need high-capacity water storage tanks. The well itself acts as a reservoir.
So, you can draw water for laundry, general cleaning, gardening, or watering livestock. You only need a water barrel for storing treated water for drinking.
The well water can be hard or soft, depending on your location. Hard water should be softened for various uses. A simple boiling can do, but you sometimes need other methods.
Make Use Of Lake Water For Laundry
This is a bonus for you if you live near the lake. Lake water is clean enough for use in laundry and gardening just as it is. The problem may be moving it to your cabin home.
Alternatively, you take the laundry to the lake. However, you should not rinse your clothes directly into the lake. Set an off-shore washing station to keep lake water clean.
Lake water is available all year round. It is a permanent solution to all your off-grid water problems.
If you want to use it for other things apart from laundry, you should filter and treat it. That is for your safety, and we cannot stress it enough.
Use lake water as an alternative when you exhaust other options such as harvesting rainwater or digging a well.
That is because fetching water from the lake is a time-consuming and energy-intensive task.
Use A Composting Toilet or Outhouse
A composting toilet doesn’t need flushing. It uses microbial activity to decompose human waste, making it harmless and odorless. With it, you save on water for flushing the toilet.
Some of the most water-efficient toilets require about 1.8 gallons per flush.
If your household has five people, you need about 6.4 gallons of water per day, assuming that each one of you uses the toilet once. This can be costly if you live in a cabin without indoor plumbing.
You make a DIY composting toilet or buy one online for your family. It is easy to use and best suited for people living off the grid.
However, you will have to maintain proper hygiene when using a composting toilet. It should be emptied at least every three weeks or sooner, depending on the size of your household.
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Since sourcing water is the main problem, using it sparingly is not optional. Avoid unnecessary wastage and adopt ways of conserving the little you have. Consider the following ways:
Sharing is caring, and no one is encouraged to shy away from doing it. Learn to share your water with your neighbors, especially if you have enough.
You may not need all the water in your well. So, why don’t you let other people benefit from it? Similarly, you can also ask to share water sources from other households.
Outdoor Bathing Near The Water Source
You can save yourself the time and energy of carrying water home by bathing outdoors.
You should not take a bath right in the source but carry water a few meters away. The soapy water should not find its way back into the source. Avoid polluting the water source!
Bring Your Laundry Into Town
Laundry takes the highest percentage of water we use at home. Daily washing needs a lot of water. Instead of doing that, you can save it by collecting clothes for two to three days to bring to town to wash.
Facts About Living Without Indoor Plumbing In The US
Clean and safe water is essential for human health. Unfortunately, not all households in the United States can access it. It’s either too expensive or just out of reach.
Nearly two million people in the US lack indoor plumbing facilities. That means they don’t have bathtubs, toilets, or running water. The most vulnerable or the worst hit are people in rural areas, tribal communities, and immigrants.
Water problems also exist in major cities of the US. A significant percentage of the urban population lacks piped water.
By 2017, about 28,000 and 19,000 households in New York and LA, respectively, lacked indoor plumbing.
Unfortunately, the lack of indoor plumbing is related to household income, unemployment rates, and educational attainment.
Complete plumbing systems are mainly found in households with high-income earners, which indicates the existing social gap.
Even without indoor plumbing, life has to move on. You have to survive through other means of getting water.
It should not be a crisis if you live off the grid. You can still survive comfortably without piped water in your cabin.
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