Take care of the earth. Take care of the people. Share the surplus. Those are the three core principles of permaculture—a sustainable and ecological method of land use. They are also the principles that guided Cal McDonald of Booger Holler Storage and U-Haul Dealership to build a water reclamation system on his property.
“Three years ago, about three or four months after becoming a U-Haul Dealer, I decided to install this system,” McDonald recalled. “We had a relatively severe winter which created a lot of mud in the spring. Prior to becoming a dealer, we hardly had any trucks on our lot. But with our new U-Haul business, it became a high-traffic area on our property.”
A green solution
With his customers in mind, McDonald was eager to find a solution for his soggy lot.
“We had to come up with a solution that was better than spending a lot of money on concrete or blacktop—and much better for the land,” McDonald commented. “Around that time, I started reading about permaculture. It teaches you to use the water that falls on your land for as many things as you can, in as many different ways as you can.”
Inspired by this idea, McDonald began work on a solution that would not only solve the concerns he had for the lot he intended for his U-Haul trucks and trailers, but also for the clay lot at the back of his property.
“We diverted all the rainwater off of half of the buildings at our storage facility,” McDonald explained. “We dug a water retention pond in the clay lot, then made a ditch lined with recycled vinyl banners. The water flows from the buildings and the customer lot, down the ditch, though a culvert and into a water retention pond.”
Within a few short months, the pond was full of water. McDonald decided to stock the pond with catfish, bass and bluegills.
“My main goal for putting fish in the pond was to keep the mosquitoes under control,” McDonald offered. “Later, I had a customer give me some ducks. So I built a floating island with a bug zapper on it. The bug zapper attracts bugs, and the fish and the ducks compete all night long to see who can eat the most bugs.”
McDonald also has chickens, an orchard and a garden on his property. Though the area is currently in the middle of a drought, McDonald found a creative way to solve that problem as well.
“I now have 275-gallon tanks at the end of the downspouts for the office and the shop,” McDonald detailed. “There are eight tanks. Four of them are hooked up to each other. I use garden hoses to divert that water to the pond. When the drought is over, we’ll use those tanks to water the orchard and garden.”
“This dealer’s creative, sustainable method of water reclamation on his property not only helps his customers, it also has created and supports a small ecosystem as well,” praised Allan Yang, director of U-Haul Corporate Sustainability. “This environmentally conscious way of thinking fits perfectly with the company’s sustainability initiatives.”
“Not only did we solve the issue with our soggy lot, we’ve made our business more accommodating for our customers,” McDonald expressed. “We’ve solved a lot of issues with one eco-friendly solution.”
McDonald is another great example of how U-Haul and our dealers share the same sustainable goals.
Do you have a water reclamation system on your property? What kinds of eco-friendly activities do you practice? Share your story in the comment section.