There is nothing more important than water when it comes to the sustenance of life on this planet. Yet, 844 million people globally do not have access to clean and safe water. Access to clean and safe water can be termed as the stepping stone towards building a sustainable world. Understanding this global crisis of water, developing and developed countries have shifted their attention towards the possibility of reusing greywater to limit the exploitation of resources. In this article let’s have a quick gaze on “Greywater Systems”, what they are? how does it work? The need for it, and so on.
What is Greywater?
Wastewater from domestic use can be broadly classified into two, viz
- Black water: This includes the sewage water from toilets, which cannot be used for any other purpose and has to go into a septic tank or sewage drain.
- Greywater: Domestically used water which is not clean to drink but can be used for other purposes after proper treatment is termed as Greywater.
Most of the wastewater from domestic use falls under the category of Greywater, which essentially means we are wasting water which can be used again. In the wake of the 21st-century people have begun realizing the potential of re-using Greywater in building a sustainable world.
Advantages of using Greywater
- Helps to drastically reduce the need for fresh water
Greywater can be used without any treatment for purposes like watering plants which greatly reduces the quantity of water being diverted from nature and helps in creating an eco-friendly garden. With the cost-effective ways of water treatment, the Greywater can be used for doing laundry, outdoor cleaning, and so on.
- Reduces the strain on septic tanks/ sewer tanks
Re-using the Greywater obviously reduces the strain on septic tanks/sewer tanks as most water is diverted for uses and ends up recharging the groundwater. On a broad picture reduced quantity of Greywater from individual houses means higher treatment effectiveness and lower costs for municipal water treatment plants.
- Reclamation of wasted nutrients and plant growth
Greywater contains water from the kitchen which has higher organic contents than the fresh water. Using this water for watering the plants can indirectly be a way to provide nutrients to plants thereby saving the additional cost on manures and fertilizers.
How to use Greywater in your homes?
The major hurdle in using greywater in an existing house lies in the way the plumbing systems have been designed. Majority of the water we use is flushed into the septic tanks or city sewer drains. Which is why a great deal of plumbing modification has to be done in order to use Greywater in an existing house.
The ideal way of Re-using Greywater would be to divert all the drain water into an outdoor Greywater tank and then using it. This system can only be designed while building a new house. On existing houses, the easiest and cost-effective way would be to identify the exterior drain pipes from kitchen, bathtubs and laundry machines. Cut a hole in the pipes and using an elbow joint divert the water to your vegetable gardens or an outdoor Greywater tank.
Is it safe to use Greywater?
The Greywater may look dirty to our eyes as it contains grease, dirt, hair and certain household products. Because Greywater does not come in direct or indirect contact with a toilet or sewer, it contains a 100 times fewer pathogens which makes it safe for reuse. The contents of the Greywater can be valuable fertilizers to your plants.
Basic guidelines for using Greywater
- Do not store Greywater for more than 24 hours which may lead to the breakdown of the nutrients releasing bad odours
- Ensure that the Greywater stored in the tanks can soak into the surrounding soil and is unavailable for animals or people to drink.
- Keep your Greywater systems as simple as possible.
- Avoid overflowing and runoff of Greywater from the storage tanks.
Implementing Greywater systems at your homes can prove to be the first step towards building a sustainable house. Greywater systems can greatly be of help in reducing the fresh water consumption by re-using.