Recycling Grey Water

Of all the things at home that can be recycled, recycling grey water may be one of the most unknown. It may sound disgusting and hence be a major turnoff to many people, but in the hands of someone willing to give it a try, it is a great value to the plants and vegetables that live in your yard.

What is Grey Water?

Grey water is defined as basically any kind of waste water that comes from the home, except that from the toilet (usually known as black water), unless the toilet is a composting toilet. Usually between 50% to 80% of grey water comes from the kitchen and bathroom sink, shower or bath tubs, dishwashers and washing machines.

Read more about the process of greywater recycling.

Benefits of Grey Water Recycling

There are many benefits to recycling grey water.

To name a few, recycling grey water can reduce the strain on water treatment plants, septic systems and fresh water. Because recycled grey water can be used to irrigate the land around your home, it can greatly decrease the cost of fresh water at home, and precious fresh water can instead be used on other more important uses such as cooking and drinking.

Greywater recycling can also help recharge the natural balance of ground water and allow for the redevelopment of an otherwise useless property by allowing for the removal of grey water where a septic system is not feasible. Recycled grey water can also help to provide your plants with a more nutrient-rich soil and maintain the soil's integrity. This often means a bigger and more bountiful yard and garden.

Important Pointers When Recycling Grey Water

Grey water should be handled with care. Otherwise there could be risk of infection.

Grey water only lasts for up to 24 hours before it begins to ferment and becomes black water.

The safest way to handle grey water is to directly introduce it to an active top soil where natural bacteria can take up the role of recycling the grey water into usable nutrients and fluid for the plants.

It would probably be safest to use grey water only to irrigate ornamental plants, so that there is less fear that microorganisms in the grey water would pass into edible parts of plants. This is especially so for plants that are typically eaten raw, for example, strawberries, grapes and tomatoes.

Refrain from using sprinklers with recycled grey water, as doing so could spread contaminants and microorganisms into the air and be breathed in, causing respiratory problems.

You must make sure that you have enough soil and plants to utilize the recycled grey water from your system. The soil must be permeable but not so much that the water would all sink to the bottom and stagnate there.

Recycling grey water may require special permits in some areas. Hence, before you embark on setting up your system, be sure to check out the laws and regulations in your area first.

The climate must be taken into consideration. If the temperature is too low, the grey water might freeze in the ground or the pipes might burst. In such instances, you might need to identify means of heating up the grey water. If a heating system is needed to maintain the grey water at a suitable temperature, then you may have to evaluate whether it is still energy and resource efficient to have a grey water recycling system in your vicinity in the first place. Alternatively, you can consider recycling your grey water only in the warmer months.

Ultimately, you would need to consider the pros and cons of setting up a grey water recycling system at home. The resources and complexities needed to set up and maintain such a system has to be weighed against factors such as the supply and demand for grey water at home.

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