A Bedtime Story – Doing The Math

I believe that I suffer from a genetic predisposition to thrift in a time/situation where it’s rather difficult to practice it. Maybe when we get the kids out of the house. In the meantime . . . I’ve grown adept at ignoring that wee Scotsman, hoppin’ up ‘n’ down, brandishing his shillelagh, and verbally accosting me from the back of my head.

Autumn is at hand and, as much as I’d like otherwise, it’s time to drain the pool. I’m more of a “floater” than a “swimmer” myself and rather enjoy just floating about. But it hasn’t been warm enough to use the pool lately, isn’t likely to get any warmer, and it’s a poly above-the-ground contraption; so we can’t very well leave it sitting out over the winter. If the freezing didn’t wreak havoc on it- it would be July of next year before the darned thing thawed enough to swim in again.

Time to educate my youngest on how to set up a siphon and empty the pool without pumping or attempting to dig a hole under the pool edge to access the manufacturer provided drain (who designs things like that anyway?). I’m in no particular hurry, the water is draining out into the coulee so Momma’s backyard won’t be playing host to a quarter inch of standing water, and all is well ‘n’ good right up to the point where I stopped to reflect on how many gallons I was running out on the ground and how much it had cost to fill the thing in the first place.

“Yah great bleedin’ idgit (whack)!”

If I flinched, my son exercised enough discretion to let it go. Many years ago I had explained to my children that parenting causes parents to develop facial ticks. The oldest child caught on and quickly cautioned the younger two not to press their luck. Since that time, there have been no comments when Mom or Dad turn purple, one eyebrow convulsing, having been confronted with “I can’t wear those shoes! The bottoms are the wrong color!”

So . . . what is pool water when it’s no longer pool water? How is this large quantity of wet stuff made to do double duty? The chlorine will have burnt out by now, but that doesn’t qualify it as “potable” water. No drinking the it-used-to-be-pool-water water. It’s not water-the-garden water since the garden is also pretty much done for the year also. The only daily use non-potable water we might actually have a use for is- toilet water! That’s not 100% true since the dog isn’t at all squeamish about such things. Still!

Folks, put on your “game faces,” ’cause it’s time to do the math.

The first step is shifting the thought processes so that it all makes sense. We convert already-paid-for-used-to-be-pool-water water to doesn’t-need-to-be-potable-to-be-used-in-the-toilet water. That’s “laps” to “flushes” and instead of draining it into the coulee it heads into the septic tank. This saves us from spending money on potable water for a non-potable water application!

If one of the languages on the side of the pool is English (Sanskrit! Who’d have thought!) then Big Blue is 16 foot across by 48 inches deep. 3.1417 times the radius (8 ft) squared, times the depth, multiplied by 7.47 equals 6007.9357 gallons of it-used-to-be-pool-water water. The average toilet dispenses between 3.5 and 5 gallons of water per flush. New toilets will, or so I’ve read, do the same job with 1.6 gallons. New Japanese toilets will do the same, with even less, and play music while they’re doing it! Our home was built in the 70’s so we’ll figure 3.5 gallons per and continue to be content with “gurgling” over Shania Twain.

3.5 toilet gallons goes into 6007 pool gallons 1716 times. Divide that by 4 people and you get 429 flushes! Since everyone here goes to school or work daily let’s figure 3 flushes per day per person and we have enough “toilet water” to last 143 days!

And all I need now is something that’ll do the job of a cistern and a 12 volt recreational vehicle water pump. More on that next time . . .

Anyone else hearing bagpipes?

About Wade

While I've made my living from pursuits ranging from certified welder to college instructor, I'm currently employed as a multimedia and web developer- when I'm not ferrying teenagers back and forth to extracurricular activities. Father, provider . . . and taxi driver. Hobbies, if I had time for such things, would include horses, metal work (machining, welding and enameling) and woodworking. My wife enjoys candle making, stained glass, and rescuing two and four footed strays.

6 thoughts on “A Bedtime Story – Doing The Math

  1. That’s really bloody brilliant when you stop to think about it. My friends and I have been having a discussion about water lately. Those of us living in the South Western United States have run into some interesting legal problems involving rain water collection and water rights laws. One of them posted a link to a YouTube video of a guy in Arizona (or was it New Mexico, I forget which) who was suied for collecting rain water into a cistern at his place of business (a used car dealership) for washing the vehicles. That was the first time any of us had ever realized that it’s illegal to collect rainwater in some areas under current water rights laws. My friend Dude Maclean is of the opinion that “Water is the new Gold” out here. Any way that a body can save water is now being serioiusly looked at.

    With the right equipment, you could even make that non-potable-pool-water into perfectly clean, potable drinking water. All it reqires is the right filters. Come to think of it, that above ground pool could be made into a type of cistern. I remember seeing pool covers years ago that were made of a thick black plastic that soaks up the sun’s heats to heat the pool water. Insulate the sides of the pool to retain the sun’s heat and it should keep the water above freezing temp. Then you can pipe it out as needed. Better yet, what about building a greenhouse kind of structure over the pool to heat it. Some farmers put large water tanks in the middle of geodesic dome greenhouses where the sunlight is focused to heat the water, which then re-radiates that heat during the night to help stabilize the temperature inside the structure. One guy I saw had even taken to raising fish in the tanks with oxygenating water plants floating on the top of it. Anyway the principle is the same, fish or no. Use the sun to heat the water and keep it from freezing.

    My parents use to have an above ground pool, and when they drained it, the vinyl liner dried out and cracked. Eventually dad just disassembled the pool and junked it.

  2. Sued for collecting rain water? There’s a new perspective for me. One to two times a year I’m contending with overland flooding!

    If you find that youTube link I’d like to see the video.

    For the most part, in this part of the country, I want to say that the only *foolproof* way to keep unheated things from freezing is to get enough of it below the frost line such that the convection tends to the remainder of it. Rule of thumb is five foot down but your mileage may vary.

    A person might be able to pull enough heat with a ground loop providing the pool was *really well insulated* and remained covered during the off season. That would be easier if the surface area were reduced by going deep and halving the circumference.

    Wouldn’t say no to a trout pond!

  3. Sage has gotten me thinking a little more about the water conservation, versus simple repurposing, and I think that I’ve made up my mind to install a urinal in the downstairs bathroom. From what I’m seeing online- they consume about 1 gallon per flush (vs 3.5). That’s worthwhile. Better still, it’ll reduce the male presence in the upstairs facility and that would likely make the lady folk happier.

    What’s strange to me is that none of the local home improvement stores stock them. Nothing “residential” for the fixer-upper. What I’m thinking is simple enough that I can’t imagine nobody else has considered it.

    Commercial pieces can be had off of eBay but they’re more expensive than what I can buy a new residential toilet for locally *without* the cost of shipping a large chunk of porcelain across the country.

    The next step, as I see it, is to call around to see if any of the local construction companies are doing any remodels where I can find a commercial piece used. I get the urinal for little or no money down and that’s a large chunk of porcelain that doesn’t end up in the landfill.

  4. Here’s a “dumb” idea from a lady’s point of view for the urinal. How about a plastic milk jug attached to the wall (or a glass jug of some sort with the bottom carefully and safely cut off. Then attach a hose to the toilet drain and hand flush the new urinal with a bucket of water? It’s something my husband would consider if I brought it up to him!

  5. Wade,

    Your profile mentions that you’ve done welding before. If yer wanting to put in a urinal and you can’t find a ceramic one, you could just make out of metal. If you’re worried about cleaning it, before you install the thing have it glazed or enameled. We use to do enameling projects in metal shop on a small scale. All it involves is sticking some powdered glass on the outside of the metal, and heating it up until it melts. If you really wanted to have some fun, you could do a Cloisonne’ finish on it and get artistic! :D

    Or you could also make your urinal using tile and grout/caulking and small sink or wash basin in the bottom. Or peice one together using slabs of countertop material and silicon caulking. I remember when bus stops use to have big metal trough urinals in them made of stainless steel. 55-gallon steel drum could be cut up and used for that (sure would be louder than heck to use though). Last resort, if you really want a ceramic Urinal: Get some clay and sculpt one. Build a brick kiln and fire it yerself the old fashioned way with wood or charcoal. Then glaze it and yer ready to go.

    All my friends tell me “Think outside the box, be innovative!” I’ve eventually gotten to the point where I don’t believe there ever really was a “box” except in my head where I imagined there was only one way to do anything. To quote my favorite author, Daniel Quinn, “There is no one right way to dig a burrow, or to feather a nest, or to build a hive. There is no one right way to do anything. There are many right ways.” Don’t make like any more difficult that it has to be by trying to conform to rules made by someone thousands of miles away who’s not living in your situation, doesn’t have your level of skill or creativity, or access to your local resources. Do what works best for you, in your time, place, and situation.

    Sage

  6. cpthegreat wrote:

    >Here’s a “dumb” idea from a lady’s point of view

    It’s not a dumb idea as portable toilets are built with little more than what you’ve described. But I honestly don’t think that I could get that past my wife. She’s not entirely convinced that we need a male specific fixture added to the gender neutral ones already installed. Something “home brewed”, as it were, wouldn’t stand a chance.

    On a more pragmatic note, I’m sure something sanitary *could* be constructed but one would want to make sure that the trap was large enough so as not to evaporate too quickly and allow gas into the house. Not quite the concern with the portables.