MARQUETTE - According to the American Water Works Association, the average American home uses about 70 gallons of water indoors per day.
K.I. Sawyer resident Bill Lullo's average daily usage is 35 gallons of water per day, and his water bill never rises above the minimum fee of $15.
How does he do this? Lullo is a master at reusing water.
Bill Lullo of K.I. Sawyer presents his barrel system that lets him collect as much as 600 gallons of rain water. (Journal photo by Miriam Moeller)
First of all, Lullo, 62, who receives disability payments and lives on his own, does some of his house chores only every 10 days. This includes laundry and running the dishwasher. When he does laundry, he reuses some of the water.
"The initial wash water is used three times and the rinse water is used twice," he said.
For the first wash load, Lullo uses fresh water from the faucet, then when that water discharges, he saves those 12 gallons in buckets and uses them with his other loads.
Do his clothes get clean by reusing water? Yes, he said, sometimes helped with a little pre-soaking of tough spots.
While Lullo started conserving water to save money, he also realized the environmental benefits to water conservation: less water in the sewer system and less water wasted.
As for the dishwasher, Lullo never runs it until it's completely full, which is about every 10 days. As for watering his plants and his large garden behind and in front of his house, he uses rain water.
"I have about 600 gallons (storage) capacity," he said. "That's all rain water."
With a nifty tube and overflow system, Lullo created what he calls - with a smile on his face - a Rube Goldberg system: machines that perform a simple task in a complex way.
His rain barrels are covered so mosquitoes don't breed in them, and they are all connected via tubes to catch overflow. He uses the water on his indoor plants, petunias, vegetable and herb gardens, sunflower beds, grapes, milkweed (to attract butterflies) and much more. In the winter, he saves 130 gallons for his house plants.
"Nothing goes to waste," he said.
Lullo also does other things to conserve. He saves gasoline by only driving to town every 10 days. He recycles his food leftovers by putting them in a large compost pile that has sunflowers growing on it. He recycles the rest of his trash, even dropping off his crushed cans at a scrap metal place.
In the winter, Lullo saves energy by keeping his house cool and closing off doors to rooms he does not frequently use.
Lullo began his water conservation in 2002 when he moved to K.I. Sawyer. He said being on disability has forced him to be frugal and find ways to conserve in many aspects of his life. Over the years, he has learned to enjoy it, making a hobby out of it.
"Doing this starts off as a little game, and by itself turns into a full blown obsessive compulsiveness which spills over into the recycling of apples to atoms," he said.
In Lullo's case, this obsessive compulsiveness definitely has positive environmental side effects.