Photo credit: Barbara Mueller @ www.thegardeningblog.co.za
I’ve been looking into different ways of saving water. I’ve already got a JoJo water-storage tank, but that doesn’t help when there’s no rain to fill it. So I’ve been looking into setting up a grey-water system. Do you have any tips that I should keep in mind when I put the system in place?
Grey-water is wastewater from your house, from the bathroom but not from the toilet, and is a fantastic resource to tap into. It’s said that the average four-person home produces over 140 000 litres of harvestable grey water every year, which equates to about 100 litres per person per day. Using grey water in the garden is as easy as emptying your bath with a bucket and carrying that water to where it is needed in the garden, but there are a host of other, more sophisticated, ways to do so. Here are some guidelines to safe and effective grey water harvesting:
- Only use water from your bathrooms, from the bath, basin and shower, as well as your washing machine. Kitchen wastewater can contain grease and kitchen scraps, which might block up the system, and will also promote bacterial growth.
- Use environmentally friendly soaps and other cleaning products. Phosphate-free washing powders are recommended.
- When watering your garden, supplement your grey water irrigation with clean municipal water once a month, to help flush away any potentially harmful build-ups from the garden.
- If you don’t have a garden to water, use grey water to fill toilet cisterns.
- Don’t use any ‘black water’ – water from the kitchen or toilet – in your garden.
- Don’t let grey water stand for over 24 hours – bacteria will breed and emit unpleasant odours or even harbour disease.
- Don’t let grey water pool in your garden, for the same reason.
- Don’t irrigate using a high-pressure sprinkler. Particles in the water might block the system, and you also don’t want to spray any bacteria far and wide. Instead, water at the base of plants or install a filter before the irrigation setup.
You can build a DIY grey-water setup fairly easily, but it is often better and even cheaper to go straight to the professionals. Try the guys at www.ecogator.co.za for advice, and take a look at their all-in-one grey water system.