Uses of recycled greywater
Water is rapidly becoming a scarce and precious commodity, with many experts predicting that the next world war will be fought over water. Droughts are becoming an increasing issue in many parts of the world, so surely there must be a way of utilising every drop of water that passes through our homes. Luckily, industry specialists Aquality inform us that “we have a plentiful supply of water that could be used – from the roofs of our buildings or the waste from our baths and showers.”
Just as rainwater harvesting is proving to be a lifesaver, correctly recycling greywater could be just as important a tool in water conservation.
What is Greywater?
The system we incorporate into our homes is; clean tap water in- waste water out. The water that comes into our taps is treated to make it fit for consumption. It’s possible to connect a water supply to a softener or filter system, but the water that comes out of the tap leaves the same way – whether via the bath, shower, sink, washing machine or dishwasher.
This is not the same wastewater that goes through our toilets and into the sewer, which is known as blackwater. ‘Greywater’ makes up 50-80% of a household’s waste water and if recycled efficiently, it can save up to 70 litres of potable water per person per day.
There are various ways to treat greywater, ranging from very simple methods to complex fully automated treatment systems, depending on what you want to use the water for.
Uses of Recycled Greywater
To avoid the issues set by a possible hosepipe ban and lower your water usage, recycled greywater is the perfect solution for watering your garden. Using potable water these days seems to be such a flagrant waste, so why not recycle the water that gets flushed down the sinks?
By fitting a hose directly to the external waste pipe you can direct the greywater from the sinks straight onto the desired area. Although this water does not need to be treated with chemicals if used on flowers and grass, with fruit or food crops it’s best to treat it first.
If you are using this water untreated, you will need to act fast, as the bacteria present in the water feed on particles and rapidly multiply.
It is possible to capture the water underneath your sink and use it to flush your toilet. If however you simply don’t have the time, space to store the water or the inclination there are mechanical filters that you can install instead. There have been some dramatic improvements in the pumping systems available today and it’s no longer seen as an expensive, energy hungry method of water disbursement.
The systems in operation at present collect the water from a variety of greywater sources, including washing machines, utility sinks and showers. The water enters a storage tank in the pump unit, treated chemically by adding chlorine before being pumped to the cistern of a toilet.
Bearing in mind that over a third of household water is used for flushing the toilet, recycled greywater being used to fulfil this purpose is saving valuable potable water.
Capturing and treating water for clothes washing is via the same process as above. Whereby water for flushing would be directed to the toilet cistern, the water for washing clothes would be directed to the washing machine tap source.
Notes to Remember
- Greywater is never going to be safe to drink, even when treated.
- Don’t store untreated greywater more than 24 hours. The nutrients break down causing a bad odour.
- Do not leave greywater where animals or pets can get access to it.
Could it be that eventually we will all be recycling our greywater in a bid to reduce our water usage and do our bit for water conservation. Let’s see?