What is greywater?

Did you know, the typical person uses 160 litres of water a day? That’s approximately 640 glasses of water. But that’s not drinking water. I’m talking about something known as greywater.

Gray water is defined as family wastewater that comes from showers, laundry water, bathwater, toilet water, and sink water.

In fact, that over 60% of the water utilized in the house can be categorized as greywater, which is excluding lawn and garden water.

Remember the average usage per person per day? In a month that can equal 4800 litres of water. And that’s the average per person for South East Queensland. In 1.5 months a family of 4 could fill an empty family size swimming pool with the amount of greywater they use (though we don’t recommend filling your pools with greywater).

Is greywater hazardous?

Greywater (likewise referred to as “graywater”) has the potential to carry bacteria and infections, making it risky to consume. In short, greywater is never ever drinkable. Nevertheless, it can be used for things like flushing toilets and irrigation. Unattended, greywater can be risky for irrigation by means of sprinklers as it may trigger germs and infections to become airborne.

Instead of wasting it, can we recycle it?

The short answer is yes. One of the most extensively used methods of recycling greywater is to catch it and use it on gardens and plants. There are other techniques for recycling, however, a domestic greywater recycling system can cost $10,000 or more.

Gardens do not need clean potable water to flourish. Lots of times they flourish on the nutrients that are discovered in greywater.

There are a couple of safety measures that you need to take:

  • Do not keep greywater for more than 24 hours.
  • Laundry cleaning agents high in salts can be poisonous to plants
  • Do not use water waste for the garden if you clean up using Boron products. It too is harmful to plants.
  • Disperse greywater equally. If you are utilizing a drain tube, like from a washing machine, if you don’t move the hose pipe from time to time you could over water a part of your garden and kill the plants.

Can it be used in the home?

In urban buildings, with utility offered sewer systems, we advise only re-using shower, bath, spa bath and laundry water. Kitchen and lavatory water should be left for the blackwater drain network. Toilet water recovery in a lot of cases does not provide adequate water to validate the connection expense. Plus in any case it requires extra water circulation to assist flush the blackwater pipe system.

In rural buildings (i.e. where a septic tank is used), kitchen area water can be used.

This is subject to local guidelines, but only if the following takes place:

  • A grease trap is installed between the kitchen area sink and the greywater system. This ensures food fats, oils and scraps are watered in the garden. In addition to consisting of high bacteria levels, the level of fats can produce an impervious barrier within the topsoil.
  • The dishwashing machine does not empty into the kitchen area sink waste because the cleaning agent is too caustic.

We hope this has helped you get a better understanding of what greywater is and what it means.

But if you want to know a bit more about it, there are some fantastic resources by sustainable organisations.

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