Grey Water Recycling
by Rick & Nordene Stacey
It’s a given; the household water we use goes down the drain and then into the nearby sewage system. However, have you ever thought about how this water could be reused? With approximately 1 out of every 8th person lacking access to a safe water supply (Source: Water.org), the thought of reusing water isn’t such a bad idea. This process is known as grey water recycling.
Grey water is “clean waste water which can be reused or recycled with little or no treatment for landscape irrigation and other non- potable uses“ (Source: Business Dictonary.com). Therefore, grey water recycling “is the waste water leftover after performing daily household activities and finding a use for that water instead of letting the water enter the sewage system.”(Source: environmental information.com) Examples would be the water used during a laundry cycle, in the kitchen washing dishes and the water used showering or bathing.
Unfortunately, not all water we use in our household is considered grey water. For example, toilet bowl water is not considered grey water but is referred to as black water. (Blackwater is “water polluted with food, animal or human waste.” (Source: BusinessDictonary.com)
Some of the benefits of grey water recycling are:
• Reduction of fresh water use
• Supports plant growth
• Refine water quality
• Reduced stress on septic tanks and public sanitation systems
• Helps to protect the earth’s natural resources.
• Helps to lower your water bill.
(Source: Oasis Design.net)
So how does grey water recycling work?
Whether installing an expensive professional system to simply collecting water in a pail, grey water recycling is not as complicated as it may appear. Clean fresh water (known as white water) enters into our homes through a water system. The water is used by us for different purposes and then becomes either grey water or black water. The reusable grey water is then collected and reused for plant irrigation or for other uses (Source: science.howthingswork.com). Three commonly used grey water recycling systems are:
• Manual collection which is simply collecting the reusable grey water with a portable container such as a pail and taking the water on your own outside to be used in your garden or to water your lawn.
• Diversion collection which is to have the reusable grey water collected through a pipe connection which then pumps the grey water out into the garden or the lawn.
• Treatment collection which is when the grey water is collected through a pipe connection but before it gets pumped into the garden or lawn, the grey water goes through a filter or chemical treatment system.
(Taking things a step further, grey water produced from showering or bathing has another potential benefit: the recovery of the latent heat that normally would be flushed down the drain. It can be used to “pre-heat” the cold water entering the hot-water tank, lowering the amount of energy needed to bring to “hot” water temperature)
Despite all the great benefits, there is still not a lot of knowledge about grey water recycling among policy makers. In Canada, grey water recycling is only allowed in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and some parts of British Columbia (Source: CBC News Technology & Science). Health regulators insist that there may be some health risks such as contamination of plants and creation of harmful bacteria (Source: letgogreen.com).
If you plan to use a grey water recycling system in your home, here are some useful tips:
1. Since the grey water will be redirected to your garden or lawn, use natural environmentally friendly products during household activities. Read the label to be sure that the product is biodegradable
2. It may be best to have a professional system installed instead of a homemade system in order to avoid any health risks to you and the environment around you. Try Ask.com for a list of companies.
3. Set your goals and create an action plan. For example a goal may be to save at least 10% on your water bill each. How do you plan on achieving that goal?
4. Do your research. Not all grey water recycling systems on the market are the same. There are different types of grey water recycling system designed for a particular need or function. For example you may want to consider a system which functions in cold climates if you live in an area which gets cold at some point during the year.
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Energy Management – Project Management – General Contracting