And with Australia facing water shortages and droughts during the drier months, we should all be doing our bit to be environmentally friendly and conserve water.
Emphasising the importance of water conservation, the Australian Water Association states on its website: “Australia, being the driest continent in the world, suffers from periodic drought conditions that make water availability a key national issue.”
What is greywater?
Greywater is the waste water from our sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, showers and baths. It doesn’t include, however, the waste water from toilets, which is classed as blackwater, or sewage.
Greywater is easier to treat and recycle than blackwater, due to its lower levels of contaminants.
It also has the potential to be recycled directly within the home and garden, so you can use greywater to water the garden, clean the car, run the washing machine and flush the toilet.
Greywater for the garden
Rainwater can – believe it or not – be used for any purpose, including drinking and cooking. But the simplest place to start is in the garden.
John Payne, founder of Canberra-based Enviro Friendly World, says: “The average home can reduce their water consumption by around 30% by re-using greywater on their garden.”
According to Sydney Water, about 61% of the 180,000 litres of water that leaves the average home as waste water is reusable grey water.
Greywater recycling: how to start
There are two types of greywater systems: diversion systems that push untreated greywater through a sub-surface outdoor irrigation system, and treatment systems that treat greywater so you can use it above surface for irrigation, toilets and washing machines.
The first thing to do, however, is to check with your council that your property is not registered in an area deemed environmentally sensitive.
The next step is to install a greywater recycling system. There are lots on the market, with prices upwards of about $400. Here are a couple of basic ones:
Tips on using greywater
- Don’t use greywater near edible parts of fruit or vegetables
- Greywater is alkaline, so don’t drown acid-loving plants in it
- Choose less-aggressive detergents so you can use the water on more plants
- Greywater is not permitted to run off your property
- Ensure all pipes are marked to indicate greywater use