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Tapping into the water beneath our homes

In chronically dry places, like the entire continent of Australia, communities faced near permanent drought increasingly rely on alternative sources of water. While rainwater capture is common Down Under, a large number of people and farmers have chosen to look not up, but down for this limited resource.

Tapping into the groundwater beneath their homes, gives Australians more freedom to water gardens and lawns during restricted periods. “Bore water in use” signs are common throughout neighborhoods of Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

It’s a relatively low-tech option for increasing your water supply. As ABC Australia reports, it’s a process that can be done by “a handy home gardener” by digging a 3-10 meter (10- 33 foot) deep bore hole in a sandy area. Once a sludge pump has been used to clear the hole, it is then “cased” with PVC pipe and outfitted with a pump (centrifugal pumps cost from $300-600, for deeper holes a more expensive submersible pump may be required). Once it’s all in place, the water will begin to flow.

It’s not a perfect solution for all communities since overuse can lead to a drop in groundwater. “A lot of people think it’s an endless supply, that it’s infinite,” explains Groundwater User Group member David Glen to ABC, “but it has to be recharged, like rivers, like dams.”

There are areas where groundwater is underutilized and it’s use is a sustainable option for residents. In this video, Sydney’s Claire Bowen shows us her system and her son John explains how in her neighborhood the water would slowly migrate out to the ocean if not used by her and her neighbors.

We also have a video on a Sydney resident using rainwater capture and a home recycled sewage system to remain totally off the water grid.