Greywater is term used to describe gently used household water from a property’s showers, tubs, bathroom sinks, and from washing machines. While greywater may have traces of food, dirt, hair, grease or some household cleaning products, it is water that has not been in contact with any fecal material from the toilet.
In this sense, although the water may give a dirty look, it is considered safe and quite useful for irrigation in the yard. However, if the same is discharged into lakes, rivers or other waterways, its contents may be considered as pollutants. To plants, however, they act as valuable fertilizer.
What Is Greywater Recycling?
Reusing the greywater from your home helps prevent it from entering the septic tank or sewer and minimizes the risk of polluting neighboring water bodies. The basics of greywater recycling involve piping the water directly outside the home and using it to irrigate plants and fruit trees. The same water may also be utilized to water vegetable plants but care needs to be taken that it does not come into direct contact with edible plant parts.
Most greywater recycling systems are set up to allow water to infiltrate into the soil without sending it into the property’s existing drip irrigation system. The simplest of these will use gravity wherever possible in place of relying on pumps. To keep things simple these irrigation systems are devised to prevent clogging so that the reliance on filters can be minimized.
More complex recycling systems are engineered to treat and reuse large volumes of water and are more appropriate for multifamily, commercial and even industrial systems. These more elaborate systems can be very effective in conserving water in environments such as manufacturing and food processing facilities, dense urban housing developments, and various public buildings including schools and universities. Given the complexity of these systems, they will likely depend on the use of pumps and different filtration systems and may become costly to install. These larger systems will also require maintenance on a regular basis for optimal performance.
How Is Greywater Treated?
Greywater treatment can be carried out in a number of ways, all of which need to be safe from a health point of view as well as not be harmful to the environment. Since greywater is not the same as fresh water it naturally follows different guidelines before it can be reused. For instance, greywater should never be stored as its contents will breakdown and create bad odors. Likewise, it should not be allowed to pool as pooling can create breeding grounds for mosquitos along with the possibility of human contact with the water.
If anything, the most basic type of greywater use is to gather the water in a container as you hand wash utensils and then pour it over plants and fruit trees. However, to make the system more expansive, you could invest in a residential greywater irrigation system that captures water from the shower, filters it and sends it outside to the landscape. Such simple spring systems often do not require any plumbing modifications and can be installed easily.
Or for larger scale greywater reuse, the system may require a double piped drainage system throughout the home which collects the water from different sources, filters and purifies it for reuse. Property owners can also choose to opt for various stretch filter systems or soil boxes to treat and recycle their greywater.
How to Use Greywater At Home?
Domestic greywater recycling systems can easily help homeowners divert their greywater without getting into the home’s plumbing system. For instance, when using the washing machine, every machine comes with an internal pump which systematically pumps out dirty water. This system can easily be used to direct the greywater straight to the plants.
But where washing machines cannot be placed strategically enough to let the water outside, the water may be collected in a laundry drum. The idea is to have the wash water pumped into a large enough barrel with a nozzle at the base to drain the water out through a hose. This will allow the water to be hosed around for irrigation. For more flexibility in irrigation, you can choose a system known as Laundry-to Landscape that does not alter the plumbing system but allows the user to choose which plants they want to irrigate.
To use water from showers, homeowners can select the branched drain system that is a gravity based system sans the use of pumps. The system works by draining through a pipe sloping downward with the water being divided into smaller quantities. The system uses a plumbing fitting which divides the water flow with the eventual outlet flowing into a fertilized basin.
Another use of the greywater recycling system is toilet flushing where the water is disinfected and reused when flushing the toilet.