Jul 252020
What Is Grey Water Recycling? Real Guide
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Welcome to my 'What is Grey Water Recycling' post!

First of all, I must congratulate you for taking the time to do your research on this topic of green living.

If you are reading this it is likely that you are interested in green living and want to learn a little more about what greywater is and how it works. Are you susceptible to reusing this water in your garden? Don't worry... I was too!

In this article, I will outline the advantages of the systems, how they can reduce the current water crises, reassure you of any concerns you may have, outline the components used, and teach you how to set up a greywater system at your home.

As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about education and the impact it can have on bettering our future. It is down to us individuals to do our research and make small changes to the way we live our lives. 

These small changes are easy to make and can have a big impact on our health, the health of our family and our environment. This website is designed for everyday people looking to make these changes. Here you will learn a legitimate way to go green. 

Let me be completely transparent with you, I am not here to pitch or sell anything to you. I am here to reveal and to assist you on your journey of going green! 

The Current Water Crisis

Water is an essential aspect of all life on earth. Having access to fresh water is fundamental to living a healthy human life.

However, here in the 21st century, what we consider to be "modern life", over a billion people do not have access to water, and nearly three billion experience scarcity every month.

It has been predicted by field experts that by the year 2025, two-thirds of humans may be facing water shortages. That and a huge percentage of the people living today. But what has caused this?

The WWF points out three contributing factors to the water crisis; pollution, agriculture, and population growth.

Group-of-Lions-Drinking

Pollution

Our different water sources are polluted in several different ways; agriculture, untreated wastewater, industrial waste, and even our groundwater can be polluted from pollutants that leach into aquifers. This makes these waters unfit for human consumption and even swimming in.

Agriculture

Did you know that seventy percent of the planet's fresh water is used by our agriculture, yet more than half of this water is wasted due to poor infrastructure, inefficient systems, or poor crop choices?

We are drying out or water supplies and coming close to reaching our water resource limits. Also, these practices create freshwater pollution, making the matter even worse, and causing environmental health risks!

Population Growth

The human population has seen rapid growth in the past half a century. This fact, combined with industrialization has had a huge impact on our water systems and the biodiversity they support.  

We use water in numerous different industries which all of these people require - clothing, food, shelter. This only adds additional pressure on our freshwater systems.

One Solution: Grey Water Recycling

Although we need to see global leaders working together to overcome these issues on an international level, introducing a greywater recycling system in your home, will help elevate a little pressure. 

This is especially true if you can encourage your friends and family members to do the same in their homes too.

What is Grey Water Recycling?

To understand what greywater recycling is it is first important to break this phrase down into its components; greywater and recycling. Greywater is water that has been gently used in residential dwellings. For example, it could be water from your showers, bathroom sinks, washing machines, and bathtubs.

Contrary to popular belief, greywater does not come in contact with feces from the toilet and/or washing diapers. However, it may contain traces of grease, hair, food, dirt, and certain household cleaning products.

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into something that we can use again. Therefore greywater recycling is about coming up with a solution so that greywater (and the energy used to create it), isn't completely wasted. It s about repurposing or reusing this water again.

Benefits of Recycling Grey Water

Safe for Some Plants

This was the most surprising fact for me about greywater systems. I have done comprehensive research on the chemicals that we use daily and the harmful effects that can have on our health and the health of our environment.

As a result, I was very skeptical about the idea of using greywater in my garden on the plants producing food I was going to eat. And I was right to be concerned too. Unless you are using completely natural and biodegradable products in all aspects of personal care and cleaning, you should not be using greywater on your vegetables.

Many great water systems have filtering systems that leave some soap in the water. You may be wondering why they do this. I did too. Yet some companies claim that small amounts of these chemicals can be beneficial to your plants, encouraging growth and adding nutrients to your soil.

I am still skeptical about this and if you are too, just ensure that the products entering your water system are biodegradable. Also, look for washing detergents with no phosphorous. Sometimes these can be hard to find or be expensive so you can always make your own too.

Reduce Pollution!

O.K., so what about the chemicals polluting local water supplies? Contrary to popular belief, when we use greywater in our gardens, we reduce pollution.

I was concerned about creating environmental pollution and that the chemicals would enter local waterways. Although greywater systems are not a perfect solution, they do reduce the amount of pollution that enters our waterways. Yes, eventually they will seal into our waterways but thank you to the filtration system, the amount of chemicals is reduced.

Also, if you are using natural and biodegradable products in your home, then the water pollution is greatly reduced. If however, you have a stream or river on or very close to your property, I would suggest not using a greywater system unless all products are 100% natural and biodegradable.

Promote Water Conservation

Some plants require more waters than others, growing better in some climates and areas of the world than others. The most effective gardens, make use of their natural resources, understand their climate, and the plants that best grow there. Alternatively, they find water recycling solutions that reduce their water usage.

Lots of water is needed to grow plants that thrive in wet climates when growing them in hot and dry climates. As a solution, a greywater recycling system that repurposes certain household water waste combined with a drip system can improve plant health and promote water conservation.

Reduce Water Shortages

By recycling water and reducing our water consumption, we leave more clean water available to be used by other people. We will not be able to resolve worldwide water shortages through recycling greywater, yet these systems will reduce pressure and this is true the more and more thy are implemented in people's homes.

It has been estimated that over half of household water used can be recycled as greywater. Potentially, this could save hundreds of liters of water daily.

Saving Energy

Conserving energy and the world's natural resources of green living and reducing our impact on the environment. To live in a more sustainable manner we need to investigate all possible methods for saving energy.

The process of cleaning dirty water so that it is safe enough to be sent to our taps requires an awful lot of energy. To then use this water on our plants when we could be using wastewater is counterproductive.

Save Money

A greywater recycling system reduces your consumption and saves you money. Regardless of your acquire your water supply, implementing a greywater recycling system will save you money.  For example, if you pay to be connected to city water, you are charged for your water usage; the more you use the more you pay.

If you have your water well, you pay for maintenance fees. The more the well is used, the more frequent your maintenance fees will be. Even if you filter rainwater, most filter systems are bought and cost money. Homemade filter systems take time to build and your time is worth money.

Green Lifestyle

Green homes are designed to reduce your energy consumption and waste. Adding a greywater system can help you achieve these goals and contribute to a reduced carbon footprint and greener living.

It is possible to save thousands of gallons of water per year, depending on how much water you would use in your garden. The water not uses in your garden will pass through the soil and help replenish our dramatically reducing groundwater table. 

Reservoir-in-Mountain-Landscape

Components of a Grey Water System

There are two ways to create a greywater system that recycles your water. The first one is making use of a diversion device that simply carry grey water from your washing machine or bathroom directly to your toilet or garden, without treating it. The components used are:

Hose: A simple flexible hose is used to divert greywater from its source to the garden.

Diverter Valves: The price of a diverter valve is around $30-40. When you install it and it allows for choosing when the water flows to the sewer and when it flows to your garden.

Filters: These are essential components of the diversion device, which is used to remove hair and other particles from the water. The purpose is to avoid clogging in the irrigation pipes. Remember, filters need regular maintenance and cleaning. It is recommended that you replace the filter regularly, I would suggest every 6 to 12 months.

Surge Tank: The tank is used for storing the brunt of the outflow. This way, the greywater would not flood the garden. It is important to remove the sludge from the surge tank after 5-6 months. Also, it should have an overflow device so that the excess water is diverted into the sewer.

Water Pump: A water pump is essentially useful and necessary for getting water to all parts of the garden – particularly if gravity is not on your side. However, there are several designs for this and some that involve no electricity too. You may also need a power source – meaning thereby that you need to get an outdoor PowerPoint installed.

Closed-loop System: This used for the diversion of greywater to your toilet. It does not allow the water to flow to your garden. Some states in the U.S have not issued legal approval for using the closed-loop system yet, however, these policies are frequently changing so I would recommend looking into your state regulations.

Treatment Grey Water Systems

The second way to recycle greywater is through the treatment system. This system collects and treats the water to different levels of hygiene and purity. The different stages involved in the treatment of water are:

1. Solid filtration that involves hair and lint removal.

2. Removal of unwanted chemicals and pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, salts, and nutrients. This is either done through chemical treatment or with micro-organisms.

3. Disinfection by UV light or chlorination.

What is Next?

After treating water with the treatment system, you can use the water in toilets and washing machines. You can also use the water in your garden.

Moreover, if you do not have much garden to water and/or if you do not need water your garden in all seasons, still, this sort of treatment system is useful as you can use the treated water elsewhere.

How Much Will it Cost?

A basic treatment system would cost you around $3500.

If you want the “Class A” greywater treatment system, which is safe for treating the water to be used for watering plants that are intended for eating (however, not for drinking) will cost you around $10,000 to $15,000 – this also includes the cost of installation!

You may be able to find cheaper options, these prices were found on by doing quick research. If you are practically inclined and willing to install the system yourself, you will be able to save yourself a lot on money on installation fees.

What Is Grey Water Recycling? The Final Verdict!

Installing a greywater system at your home can have many personal and environmental benefits; saving you money, reducing your carbon footprint, and helping with national and international environmental issues such as water shortages and energy consumption.


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Reader Comments

  1. Love your Post! I’ve been interested in Grey-Water Systems ever since learning about Earthships, and learning how to use re-use water rather than all water going into a septic tank. Not all water is “Black-Water”, and is safe to re-use for areas such as watering the lawn/garden, etc…

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Imagine the difference it could you make if more houses around the world started to use this! Great information here on grey water recycling, it’s definitely something that should be researched more into and implemented where possible, including houses and public areas (some places do this already already).

    Personally, I believe that those in the situation to be able to invest in this are very fortunate and have a great opportunity. Since there are so many methods, it’s possible to be creative and adapt the system to one’s own purposes!

    Thank you for sharing,
    James

    1. Hello James,
      You are right, there are some public places that do this already, for example, the Grand Canyon. However, this is done out of necessity. I too would like to see more people, businesses, and environments adopting these systems out of choice.

      I agree with you about how much flexibility there is in designing such systems, you really can make them work everywhere.

      You are welcome James and I hope you have a great day!

  3. Hi, I really liked your post, but I have a question:
    Is it possible to do a DIY filter for my house??? I would really like to do one so that I can use it to clean the grey water.
    I love how you care about the world! Hope to hear from you soon!

  4. Hi Catherine,
    Amazing post. It’s shocking to know that so many people even in developed countries are experiencing water scarcity water. I live in California so I completely understand what you mean.
    Everyone needs to do their part even something like using Greywater recycling and reducing watering water as long as the chemicals they are using are not toxic to the environment.
    Is interesting that you mentioned phosphorus in detergent been dangerous which I have always thought phosphorus is good because our body stops energy from food as ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) using phosphorus. Thanks for sharing and making me learn something new.

    1. Yes, it all just depends on your location. California and Arizona have desert regions so they outsource a lot of their water.
      Just because Phosphorus is good INSIDE our bodies, doesn’t mean it is safe for our environment. Every molecule is different and reacts differently in different environments.
      Too much phosphorus can increase the growth of algae and aquatic plants, causing algae blooms which decrease oxygen levels through the process of eutrophication.
      This is harmful to both humans and animal health.
      I hope this was helpful.

  5. Hi, I like this post, learning how to re-use water rather than all water going into a septic tank. When I had my house back in the country, we had a big barrel and keep the water when it rain and use this water for the garden and all we need to do outside so never take water from the house.
    Thank you for this informative post.

    Lyne

    1. Hi, I am pleased that you found ways to supply your garden without accessing the water from your home.
      I too have a set up like what you mention here, collecting rainwater from the roof of my shed.
      Sadly this is not enough water to supply my garden as I live in a dry climate, so greywater recycling was a must in order to have enough water.
      Thank you for sharing.

  6. Interesting article on what is grey water recycling. I didn’t know much about this topic but now I do. It would be horrible to have a water shortage. Where would someone get a treatment system?

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi there, I have found your article and was surprised to read that water shortage is such an issue for so many people! I knew it affected some nations but wasn’t aware of the numbers.
    Sometimes while the washer is running or somebody is in a shower I think of all the water being used, plus the money spent to heat the water.
    People use thousands of gallons of water for watering their garden, lawn, or flowers and should be able to redirect the water from the house to a holding tank instead of using fresh well water on their lawn.
    Do you know how many gallons of water an average household uses in a day or year?

    1. Hi Justin, yes the figures are shocking and I think that this information will help people be more conscious of the amount of water they use.
      The average person today uses a staggering 80-100 gallons per day, or 29,200-36,500 gallons per year!
      Finding ways to reduce or water usage is essential if we continue life as we know it.
      Thank you for reading.

  8. Hi Jamie, you are more than welcome. Making the most out of rainwater is definitely an excellent place to start. This method takes time and some money, but once it is established it will be a big help and enable human life to continue as we know it.

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