Should You Reuse Water? The Greywater
Should you reuse water? The tough questions are answered here:
First of all, water is a precious resource and any attempt to recycle and conserve should be a no-brainer as it
can reduce your water bill.
In areas where it simply flows down the drain or into the septic tank, it seems to be a wasted opportunity for
reuse in garden or lawn watering.
The problem is that some greywater will contain residues from detergents and if previously used for soaking
soiled nappies or garments, may have infectious diseases - so the use on vegetable production may pose health risks
To treat the water by chlorine application may also pose a risk as well. Ultimately the water will be returned
into the environment, so the simplest solution is to avoid adding harmful chemicals to your household in the first
There are simple treatments such as discharging the greywater into the soil or trench filled with mulch. This
certainly will reduce the chances of contamination even of groundwater if done more than 50 feet away from creeks
lakes or wells.
This can even cope with kitchen waste which may have high solid levels as long as the drains to the soak area
are large enough to cope.
If you use greywater on watering vegetables that you grow
in your garden, avoid those that are eaten directly such as tomatoes and strawberries. This is despite the fact
that little evidence exists that anyone has yet been harmed by plants that were watered by greywater.
Remember also that every glass and plate that has gone through a dishwasher will have detergent residue and you
start to see that much of the adverse reaction to recycling this resource is more fiction than fact!
It makes good sense also to utilize the greywater immediately or discharge it into the soil. Stored water will
start to fester and create more problems than it solves. One of the other problems is the desire for every house to
have a swathe of green lawn in the first place, and the resulting demand that this places on water. In hot summers
the energy needed to keep this green with pumps and sprays is environmentally unjustified.
Think about the other options before agonizing over the use of greywater or any water.
The other negative impact of greywater is that the systems for distributing, filtering and disinfecting it may
be so costly and inefficient in using energy that the whole exercise is not eco-friendly at all.
Most residential systems will save about $10-$20 of freshwater in a month, so systems that use excessive
equipment and power may have a negative effect on the environment! The other factor that can add to the cost is
that each greywater project will be very site-specific with climate, topography, household size, soil types,
retrofitting vs. new construction just some of the variables that have to be considered.
Greywater projects are never simple! Many of the so-called kitset systems do not have the flexibility to meet
all or some of these demands and have contributed to the controversy over this green initiative by being virtually
There seems an irony here in blaming technology for not providing an environmental solution. The good news
appears to be that for all the failings in the systems there are small benefits to be gained from using
Few of the applications cause actual environmental damage and no real harm to humans.
The most important thing maybe that as we look to the future these systems may become more efficient and the
improving attitude to green issues for more and more households can never really be a bad idea.