Reusing Grey Water for the Lawn and Garden

Updated on April 30, 2016

DIY Gray water home system setup

What is Grey Water

Grey water is any type of water that has been used in the house. Bathroom water from the sink, bathtub or shower is considered grey water. Water that comes from the bathroom toilet is not permitted to be used as grey water. It contains fecal matter which may contain dangerous bacteria. Grey water may also come from the kitchen sink and dishwasher, as well. The washing machine is also a good source of reusable grey water.

Using grey water can cut down on water supplies during drought conditions. It can also cut down on the wattage used in a household. This saves energy while cutting down on the cost of utilities.

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Plants and detergents

It is always better to use organic, biodegradable, low-phosphate soaps when reusing gray water. Many people just use the water straight to the garden or onto the lawn. Added fertilizers like calcium sulfate can be added to help adjust the pH levels. Bleach also should not be used if the water is to be used on plants of any kind.

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Disease possibiities

Some people prefer not to use grey water on edible plants because small amounts of bacteria may still be present. Water from the kitchen sink and dishwasher may have grease and food particles in it. Biofilters can be used to filter the water from sinks to remove the minimal bacteria. For those concerned about this issue, the water can be used in other ways. This water could mainly be used on lawns, trees, and shrubs. Using grey water for these would allow more fresh water for the edible garden plants.

Laws

Although using grey water is a viable way to save water, some may not agree. The laws are changing in a lot of places that allow the use of grey water. However, some cities still frown on this idea, so check your local laws first. Some cities even consider reusing grey water as theft because the water is city water and can be reclaimed in their water facilities and reused again.

Greywater Recycling

Ways to transfer the water

The simplest way is to carry water around in 5 gallon buckets. Use the buckets to catch excess water when showering, or remove the pipe under the sink so the water drains directly into a bucket. Be careful that the bucket doesn't overflow or fills to the point that it's too heavy to carry. Another way is to purchase a sump pump, a bucket and a hose and hook them together. These items can make the job a little easier to move the water. The third way requires someone with the knowledge to redo the plumbing so that it filters out to the yard.

Summary

Reusing grey water saves cities from having to re-clean it. They use a lot of chemicals to make the water usable again that aren't healthy for consumers. It is also good for those who have septic tanks. Removing the excess water will allow beneficial bacteria to grow better in the tanks. In general, reusing grey water makes a lot of sense and takes very little time to setup a system.

How to Install a Graywater Irrigation System - This Old House

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