AUSTIN (KXAN) — Plants are a big deal at Austin restaurant Fonda San Miguel.
“We believe that when people drive up, it’s the first impression and so we’ve really gone all out,” founder and owner Thomas Gilliland said.
As water restrictions tightened, caring for these plants became a challenge for property manager Diego Rodriguez who has to water all of them.
“We don’t have any rain and then I work with plants, so the plants need water,” Rodriguez said.
Then, they had a, seemingly unrelated, plumbing problem.
“Well, I noticed the pipe of the drain. It was clogged,” Rodriguez explained.
The clogged pipe was the A/C condensation pipe.
“It was interesting to put a bucket and or a container to see how much water we can collect… [from] the condensation units,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he saves that water for the plants, which he has to water almost daily.
In total, there are five AC units on top of the restaurant. The condensation produced by the air conditioners is funneled into one pipe and then into the tank. The hotter it is…the more AC is used, the more water is produced.
Each tank can store a little more than 250 gallons of water.
“I started with one and…it got full in 24 hours. So I decided to get a second one,” said Rodriguez.
Diego then attached a pump to the tanks and watered the plants around the property with what he collected, keeping his city water use and the restaurant’s water bill low.
Rodriguez explained, “It makes me feel…proud. I feel happy,” Rodriguez said.
And the boss is pleased too.
“We produce our own water in a sense,” Gilliland said.
None of the water saved is used in the food or beverages of the restaurant, only to water the plants outside.