Here in San Diego, especially as the warmer, drier months roll around, we begin to get more serious water conservation. Many of us do what we can by taking shorter showers or turning off the tap while brushing our teeth, and that’s great. But if you’re as serious about water conservation as we are, you’ll be happy to hear there’s another way you can reduce your household use of freshwater.
What is greywater?
Greywater is water that has been “gently used” for household purposes. It may have been used for washing dishes, bathing, or laundering clothes. Greywater comes from tubs, sinks, showers, and washing machines, but never toilets.
Although greywater may contain grease, food particles, and cleaning products that are considered pollutants in waterways, for the purposes of yard irrigation, it is not merely safe but also beneficial.
Benefits of greywater recycling
When you use recycled greywater, it has wonderful benefits for your home and your community. Using recycled greywater:
Reduces household use of freshwater
- The average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day to flush the toilet, brush their teeth, wash their hands, bathe, shave, wash clothes, wash dishes, water the garden, and so on. It has been estimated that over half of water use in the home can be recycled as greywater.
- Using greywater in place of freshwater reduces the water bill!
Reduces demand on public water supply
- Greywater recycling frees considerable amounts of water for the environment and more sensitive ecosystems.
Reduces risk of polluting local waterways
- Water recycling decreases wastewater discharge to the ocean, estuaries, and streams.
Uses for greywater around the home
Want to know how to use recycled greywater around your home? Here are some ideas:
Irrigating lawns, trees, ornamental plants, and food crops
- Must be applied directly to the soil so it does not come into contact with above-ground (or edible) plant parts
- Should not be used to water root crops
- Should be used only on well-established plants, not seedlings
- Rotate greywater with freshwater to avoid build-up of sodium salts.
- Only use in places where there is no risk of run-off
- Last summer, here in the San Diego area, a Scripps Ranch woman made the news for the firebreak she created with the use of greywater she harvested from her laundry. [http://fox5sandiego.com/2015/06/29/scripps-ranch-woman-uses-greywater-to-create-firebreak/]
- Greywater can be poured directly into the toilet (not the tank) from a bucket or other container. This flushes the toilet without the use of freshwater from the tank.
How to divert greywater for recycling
Although there are ways you can save greywater for recycling without implementing any permanent systems (such as washing the dishes in a large bowl and then using the water in the bowl to flush your toilet), you may be surprised how simple it can be to create a more structured diversion system of your own.
Diversion systems simply carry the water from the bathroom sink, kitchen sink, or washing machine directly to the garden without treating it. Some components of your system may include:
- Hoses can be used to divert the greywater from the source to the garden
- Diverter valves allow you to choose when the water flows to the garden or to the sewer
- A surge tank will prevent the greywater from flooding your garden or home
- Filters will remove hair and other large particles so they don’t clog up your system
- A pump can help get the water to where you want it.
Another option is to install a greywater treatment system. This is a more expensive option, though it may be cheaper to install when building a new house than when retrofitting an old one.
Start recycling your greywater today!
In San Diego, you do not need permits for laundry-to-landscape greywater systems, so why not get started now? At San Diego Drums & Totes, we can provide you with the materials you need to start recycling your greywater. If you need more information on how to create a diversion system or where to find resources for greywater treatment system installation, we can help with that, too. Give us a call or stop by one of our locations in Lemon Grove or San Marcos to get started today.