TL;DR: Yay, we didn’t run out of water! (…by consuming about 4.4l each per day)

Water Supply and Consumption

I do not know our water consumption in 2017 as we were on a larger communal supply. Of course I wanted to ensure we had enough water with a safe margin, and was committed to tracking our usage this year to have a solid benchmark to work from going forward.

Based on the standard figure of 1.5 gallons (5.7l)/person/day, x 4 people, x 8.5 days expected, I calculated our water needs at about 200l. We arrived on playa with 198l of potable water which included a full 27l dispenser, 2 x 4l jugs (to be repurposed as pee jugs), and 11 x 15l main jugs.

It’s important to note that we ate a lot of Mountain House freeze-dried meals this year which waste no water, and also don’t even require us to wash dishes. We had some coconut water and energy drinks but no other notable sources of hydration.

I tracked our consumption with 12 measurements over the course of the event and it shows a pleasingly-linear consumption of 4.4l per person-day, or about three-quarters of our capacity. At this rate we had a very good safety margin of over 2 more days.

Containers

We use a 27l Aquatainer dispenser, overhanging the kitchen table above a high-walled Rubbermaid bin as a catch basin. The main supply is Arrowhead 15l jugs from Costco, about $3.50 each here in Canada. I like them for several reasons:

  • Single-use recyclable — we can use for greywater
  • Crushable to save space
  • Low-cost
  • Manageable size and weight

Greywater

We repurpose empty water jugs into greywater storage, periodically dumping the catch basin into them with the aid of a funnel. This does away with messy/unreliable/cumbersome evaporation systems, which are just a complication at the scale of our camp. Each new jug is started with a cup of bleach.

My benchmark for greywater creation from 2017 was 1.4l/person/day, thereby expecting about 3 of our 15l jugs to be required. We left the playa this year safely within 2 jugs (~27l), or only 0.8l/person/day! Again our cooking did not create wastewater, we did not need to wash many dishes, and are very careful with the faucet.

To seal up the jugs for exodus, we just ensure the cap is secure and tape the shit out of the top. So far, no spills and no smell at dump time (thanks, bleach)!