Thursday, June 5, 2014

Conserving Water with the Groasis Waterboxx

Fresh potable water is becoming increasingly scare in the United States, prompting many to find ways to conserve water.  The reasons for this scarcity are many, but chief among them are depletion of aquifers, growth in the number and physical size of houses and yards, drought, and waste.

Depletion of aquifers is a profoundly under reported and unrecognized threat to our future well being.  The Ogallala Aquifer, the giant water table underlying much of the Great Plains, has decreased 300 feet in some areas, and gone completely dry in others.  Once empty, it is estimated that it will take 100,000 years for rainfall to refill.  Water pumped from this aquifer is used in central pivot irrigation over large swaths of the western and southern Great Plains, like the area seen here outside Garden City, Kansas.

Central Pivot Irrigation (when viewed from space)- From Wikipedia/NASA
Drought is increasingly making the news as well.  Drought is part of human history, with seven fat years followed by seven lean known even in ancient Egypt.  But as we now have more competing uses for water than just agriculture and human use (water is released in California for aquatic wildlife preservation to much controversy).

The growth is the number of houses, especially in dry climates, is also contributing to water shortages.  The desert Southwest was one of the fasting growing housing markets before the recession, and homeowners there frequently wanted to replicate their green lawns and landscapes from their previous home.  This is the reason that up to 60% of all water used by households is used on the lawn and garden.

Water waste is also an issue, with ~15% of our indoor use being lost to leaks alone.  Outdoor water usage is notorious for waste, with some water being lost at hose to faucet attachment, to each hose attachment, at spray nozzle or sprinkler attachment, and then of course to evaporation and runoff.

Some have advocated draconian restrictions on water usage.  There are other ways to conserve water from ground sources than top down solutions.  We can access new sources of water, specifically the water in the air.  Even the driest air has some water, and places we think of as the desert frequently have high humidity, especially in urban areas.  At the time of this writing, the relative humidity in Los Angeles is 78%.

What technology allows the water in the air to be harvested?  The Groasis Waterboxx 

The Groasis Waterboxx is a self recharging water battery, collecting daily dew and occasional rainwater and channeling it into a reservoir using its lotus leaf inspired lid.  This reservoir, which will never become depleted so long as the Waterboxx is left outside and intact, releases about 50 mL of water each day to the roots of a growing plant.  These plants can be annuals (like vegetables or vine fruits) or perennials like trees.  For trees, the Waterboxx is removed after the first 1-2 years, and reused.  The tree's roots will orient downward to capillary water during their time under the Waterboxx, and the tree will be permanently drought resistant.  The principles of the Waterboxx are explained in the video below (from

Because the Waterboxx does not need to be refilled after set up, waste from hose or watering can is eliminated.  Since the Waterboxx only releases water in a column immediately beneath itself, waste from runoff is erased.  As a result of the Waterboxx being a self contained water battery which acts as its own mulch, waste from evaporation is erased.  And finally, because the Waterboxx collects dew almost daily, water from a new source is harnessed and made useful to living things.  As a result of all these mechanism, water is conserved and money is saved.

The Groasis Waterboxx cannot be used to water all outdoor plants (for example it doesn't work with ground cover like grass or creeping phlox), but it will work with almost all vegetables and all trees.  We document its use to successfully grow red oak, Giant Sequoia, pear trees, and pumpkins (among other garden plants) elsewhere on this site.   The Waterboxx is available for purchase from Dew Harvest.  The Waterboxx can dramatically assist in your efforts to conserve water and save money, in addition to establishing long lived healthy trees and growing succulent fruits and vegetables.

How much water can be saved using the Waterboxx?  For large scale commercial applications like vineyards, Mr. Hoff believes 175,000 can be saved per acre every year by switching from drip irrigation.  In terms of relative reduction in water use, experiments in Ecuador suggest 99% of water use can be conserved with the Waterboxx.  We would love to hear your comments below - to leave one, please click on "Comments".

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