Flume Water rebate from the City of Santa Barbara

Flume is a Smart Home Water System that can help you manage, monitor and conserve water use. It uses a water meter attachment and smartphone app. it's easy to install and is accurate to 99.9%. All you do is strap it on the side of your meter, connect it via your home Wi-Fi to the plug-in Bridge device, and it feeds you real-time information on how much water you're using, or losing to leaks, in your home. It takes 10-15 minutes to install, without needing any special skills.

With Flume, you can track indoor and outdoor water use 24/7, and get instant leak alerts.  You don’t have to wait until you get your water bill to see your water use. Since you’ll see where water is being used, you can make changes in how and when you use water based on what the app tells you, get feedback to see if your new changes result in decreased water use, and make further adjustments based on the continued monitoring. You also gain peace of mind because the system will alert you to any high-flow leaks even if you are away from home.

Typically, Flume retails for $149; however, the City of Santa Barbara is currently offering a rebate to its water customers. You can get the Flume for $75 (plus tax and shipping) after you install the device.

The Flume Smart Water System was created by three Cal Poly graduate students, who were inspired by California's 2014 record-breaking drought. Through research and trial-and-error, they figured out how to get the Flume sensor to measure the magnetic field from the meter and send the information to an app via the Flume Bridge.

The Flume team says, “The future of water is digital. You can’t monitor what you can’t measure.” In the City of Santa Barbara, we have an opportunity to use the latest technology to monitor our water use. Get yours today! And it could make a great gift for a neighbor, family member or friend.

Providing rainwater for seedlings and veggie beds

Providing Rainwater for seedlings and veggie beds by Barbara Wishingrad

Now is the time to start thinking about rainwater storage for starting your productive spring garden. Rainwater is the perfect medium to enhance growth in veggie seedlings as you prepare them for planting in the ground.

Rainwater is much purer than tap or even filtered water. does not contain chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, calcium and magnesium so common in the hard water in this area. It also contains more oxygen than tap water.

“But what's the point- there’s no rain!” - people cry. Well, all the more reason to get water harvesting set in place. Rainwater Harvesting is especially beneficial in low rain years. I have previously explored the wonders of rain gardens in our projects and other articles on this website. For right now, I want to focus on rainwater storage for a specific purpose -irrigating seedlings and your veggie beds.

 In recent years, we have had even less rain than usual. However, it’s still true that for every 1000 sq feet of roof, you can capture and store 600 gal in every 1-inch rain. Santa Barbara received approximately 7 inches of rain during the current rain year, which means that on a 1000 sq ft roof, we could have captured and stored 4200 gallons. On a 350 sq ft section of roof, that number would be about 1400 gallons.

For many years, I urged storage of rainwater only in the soil and not in tanks, because it would be expensive and cumbersome to try to capture enough rainwater to satisfy irrigation needs throughout our typical dry season. However, I have moved beyond that black-and-white thinking. Instead of thinking of the amount of storage for that huge undertaking, I have started to think about using rain tanks for specific purposes for which a much smaller amount is needed. Using rainwater for irrigation seedlings is one of those purposes.

Rain barrels capture so little water at a time that most of it is lost, unless the overflow is directed into the soil. Even so, the amount of water stored in a barrel is not really enough to do any significant gardening.

However, because we typically have dry spells in between rainy periods, we could get a 530 or 600-gal tank, either which is fairly reasonable, use some of it between rains, and still have a full tank at the end of the rainy season- enough to use liberally to start a vegetable garden and give those productive plants the best water source possible. We won’t be able to rely just on rainwater for the whole growing season, but we can give those productive plants a good start, and irrigate them with rainwater for at least part of the year. This size tank could also provide some water on hand in case of emergencies.

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