Going green with greywater

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ March 12, 2012

Another major drought is predicted for parts of California and the American Southwest this summer. Local edicts will go into effect regarding watering the lawn and landscaping or washing your car. If you had a rain barrel catchment system, you may still suffer from water shortages. Eventually, consumers may have to choose between and green lawn and a shortage of potable water.

Enter greywater recycling systems. Greywater flows out of your bathroom sinks, your washing machine, tub and shower. It looks dirty and, for drinking purposes, it is. But plants love it. And by diverting greywater from blackwater waste, you can send it out to your lawn and garden for watering after filtration. Presto: less water use per home.

How much water do we waste?

According to eLocal, if you do two loads of laundry each week, you use 5,000 gallons of water a year. If you shower four times a week, you send 19,000 gallons down the drain annually. By running the tap four minutes a day, you use 4,000 gallons a year. Add these greywater sources together and the annual total is 28,000 gallons of usable water down the spout.

Toolbase reports that 60 percent of the water released by homes comes from greywater sources. The cost of installing a parallel wastewater system to separate greywater from blackwater runs in the $325-495 range if it's installed during initial plumbing of the home.

You'll have to change some of your habits, however, by going with greywater for use on landscaping. If greywater is stored and not pumped out for exterior use in 24, it may develop a smell as the nutrients break down. It's important to get the water into use without pooling it outdoors, where it can foster mosquitoes. You'll find simple systems on the market that direct greywater straight from your washing machine into driplines that feed lawns and gardens.

Additional green benefits from greywater

Using greywater not only cuts your water bills and provides a source of water during draught conditions, it cuts the burden on your city or county's wastewater processing facilities. One manufacturer, Brac Systems, claims recycling greywater can reduce your water bill by up to 40 percent. In tandem with rain harvesting (barrels or residential water collection systems), a residential greywater system can make a difference in your utility bills and your contribution to conservation.

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