Why Waste 3.4 Billion Litres of Water Each Day?

Why Waste 3.4 Billion Litres of Water Each Day?

We all know that it is good to use our grey matter, and to use grey water is also a good idea. Grey water is however mostly not used and goes down the drain into the water treatment system. There is an alternative – recycle your grey water and protect the environment and reduce the amount of water you use.

What is grey water and why is this good to use as part of an overall water conservation strategy?

Grey water is the water that can be recycled after domestic use from things such as showers, baths, spas, hand basins, laundry tubs, washing machines and dishwashers. Research has shown that one Australian house may produce 400 litres of grey water each day or 3.4 billion litres per day nationally. This is a huge amount of water wasted if not used, but if recycled and used wisely, there are significant savings to be made to the household purse and the environment alike.

Grey water is not ‘potable’, or suitable for humans to drink or otherwise consume, but it can be ideal for watering the garden or washing the car. When used for watering the garden or washing the car, there is a potential saving of 400 litres per day of water that would otherwise be taken from the mains supply for fulfilling these tasks.

Grey Water Reuse Systems

There are several grey water collection systems and here is one example of how an untreated system works. Grey water is collected in a storage tank and then pumped to a deep sand filtration bed. The grey water percolates through this filtration bed, which consists of a layer of gravel and sand, and is treated through this process. The grey water is then stored in a holding tank, and from there pumped onto different parts of the garden via simple subsurface leaching irrigation systems. The advantage of the grey water being under the surface is that there is less contact with the water, which makes it safer. Grey water may contain pathogens, or disease-causing organisms, so the less contact with the grey water the better it is. Using subsurface irrigation means the water is getting to where it is needed to go, which is the roots of plants in the garden.

Treated Grey Water Systems

If you need the grey water to be of a higher standard, a grey water treatment system will improve the quality of the water and, depending on the system, it can reach “Class A” standard. This quality is suitable for use in the garden, to wash the car and for flushing the toilet. When treated, the waste water can even be used in washing machines. This type of system provides better water quality but does require a higher financial investment and the installation is more involved. In many cases, it may be necessary to seek approval with the local council prior to installation.

Central Considerations with Grey Water

– Using grey water require consultation with Local Council and Government so that specific and local requirements and guidelines can be obtained.

– Use a licensed plumber when installing your grey water system.

– Only use grey water when untreated with watering systems that are under the soil surface.

– Untreated grey water is best diverted from the bath, shower and laundry rinse cycle only.

– Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are removed from treated grey water resulting in safer use when large quantities are required or when it is being used via a hose.

– There are further benefits to be made when using untreated grey water as it is nutrient dense, meaning that you may be able to cut back on the amount of fertiliser you use when using untreated grey water in your garden.

– Avoid using grey water on vegetable gardens if you are going to eat the vegetables raw or lightly cooked.

– Keep an eye on how your plants react when you start using grey water. If you notice any unusual changes it may be worthwhile consulting with your local nursery.

– There are many ways to save water in your home and garden. Grey water use is one option – and an option that will save not only water but also on cost.

Using grey water is not overly complex, depending on what system you choose to use. The choice of system depends on where you are going to use the grey water and how much you want to spend. One potential problem however is waste water from the laundry. Waste water from the laundry may pose a problem due to the sodium content in laundry detergents; the water gets too salty. This problem can easily be solved; check the label when you buy laundry detergent and other cleaning agents and chose those that contain less sodium. After all, you really want to be careful about what goes down the drain, including your budget.

Grey Water Use – One Vital Component in a Water Saving Strategy

Characteristics of a clever water saving strategy is an awareness of how to reduce water use, followed by actions to decrease water use, installing a rainwater tank and designing a garden that harvests storm water from hard surfaces. Using grey water is one vital component of an overall water saving strategy. To use waste water, over mains water for gardening, washing the car and more, seems like a logical decision to make and one that should indeed require minimum involvement of the grey matter.


Original article:Rainwater Harvesting Knowledge Centre


Author: H Lindholm