Ed Begley Jr. and his wife are doing their part to combat water scarcity by going back to basics – rainwater harvesting.
The 64-year-old actor and environmentalist just installed a 10,000-gallon rainwater tank in the couple’s new LEED-platinum-certified home, which is under construction in Studio City, California. Though it seems enormous, the tank will fill up in just two or three days of heavy rain.
The Begley’s home can be seen on their new environmentally-conscious reality show Our Green House, which fittingly premiered on Earth Day. Jennifer Grayson, e interviewed Ed to get his thoughts on water conservation and his home’s favorite feature.
“The plan is to completely eliminate using [city] water for irrigation,” he explained. “We also have a graywater system that will be used to water the trees. Ten thousand gallons of rainwater will be captured from every downspout on the house and from the hardscape. That will all lead to the rainwater tank underground. The whole thing looks like a giant propane tank. Inside is a bladder that holds the water, and there’s a pump that maintains pressure around the bladder when the sprinklers come on. There’s also a secondary overflow tank that pumps up to the street to the city sewer line in case there’s overflow.”
The downside of such a system? The cost. Begley estimates “when all is said and done, it’ll have been $65,000.”
“I understand that most people can’t afford this fancy pants system that I’ve got,” Begley continued. “I’m a pioneer; I like to try this stuff before others. I’m willing to be the first one in the circle of wagons over the Donner Pass.”
You may be wondering how you can do your part to conserve water in a more, shall we say, economically feasible way.
“For one like I have but not as grand a scale, you can get into a system — say, a 500 gallon tank — for around $5,000. But even if you live in an apartment, there are lots of things you can do to conserve water. I take three-minute showers.”
Begley expressed some frustration regarding the lack of urgency with which society seems to be treating such a dire problem.
“No matter how many articles are written, we don’t see what’s coming. There will be huge problems with water in the next five years, and by that I mean shortages and rationing. If you don’t believe me, drive to Lake Mead or do a Google search for ‘Colorado River delta’ and see: It’s dry! The Colorado River does not reach the Gulf of Mexico anymore! We take all the water before it gets out of there. The only reason LA has grown as much as it has is because we have our straw dipped in somebody else’s drink.”
So, what’s the solution?
“The top priority should be to work with farmers and make sure that they get pots of money — state money and federal money — so they can do more water conservation programs with farming, because farming actually takes more water than we’re using. But I don’t know why everybody isn’t putting a rain barrel under their downspouts to collect that water to water with. That’s something we could do tomorrow.”
Our Green House airs Fridays at 11a.m. EST on BiteSizeTV.