Grey Water: Is it Safe?

Grey water should be utilised more, especially for irrigation as it contains nutrients that plants thrive on and can reduce the need for fertiliser applications.  The important thing to remember for simple grey water irrigation systems is that it should not be stored in water tanks for more than 24 hours – the bacteria load found in grey water can quickly multiply and result in stinking water. Re-using your grey water saves money and helps the environment; see article below for more information.

It’s difficult to talk about conserving water usage without discussing ways to use grey water. This is water that has been used in some way for cleaning purposes. Grey water has traditionally been considered “waste water”. Whether it is the water from showers, baths, sinks, or washing machines, in the traditional sense, it has been considered as dirty or polluted — therefore, unsafe to use.

gray water irrigation

Bath water is grey water.

Keep in mind that grey water is different from black water. Black water is the waste water from garbage disposals and toilets.

General Considerations

As more has been learned about the process of treating and recycling grey water, the concept has become increasingly attractive to homeowners and others. Not only does the process offer environmental benefits, it can also result in financial savings. Less fresh water is needed to supply a household or a business, and less waste water will flow into septic or sewage systems.

However, there are some important points to know about grey water, its uses, and the various treatment methods used.

Although the popularity of recycling grey water is on the increase, the treatment processes are quite specialized, and the installations should be completed by an expert. New treatment techniques are being developed as the years go by. It is predictable that over time the methods will become easier to use and increasingly affordable.

However, drinking grey water is not safe; doing so could cause you to become seriously ill. If you should become sick from drinking grey water, you should seek professional healthcare right away. With any luck, you will visit a healthcare facility that uses exceptional physician recruiting methods. That will help ensure fewer complications.

Two Common Types of Treatment Systems

As mentioned, there are various techniques available for treating grey water, but it is best to have the systems installed by an expert. A popular filtering system is the reed bed filtration system. Some of the advantages listed for this method include the fact that there is virtually no smell involved, and once established, these systems are usually maintenance-free.

grey water tanks

Dirty water in — clean water out!

Some people use living walls to “clean up” grey water. This is the concept of a vertical garden. As the grey water trickles down to feed and water the plants that live on the wall, the bacteria that lives on the roots of the plants helps to metabolize the impurities in the water.

Uses for Grey Water

Although grey water may contain dirt, hair, grease, food particles, and other impurities, it can be treated and safely reused for at least some purposes. It is safe to say that the quality of the grey water will determine how it can be used, but in general, grey water can safely be used for flushing toilets and for irrigation purposes. However, most experts agree that almost all non-contact uses are acceptable.

Seasonal Uses

Some uses for grey water are seasonal. That is, most irrigation is performed during the growing seasons. However, grey water is produced year round. This is something to consider when thinking about the installation of a grey water filtration system.

Other Options

Some people may be more comfortable with alternative ways to conserve water. For instance, they may want to consider something as simple as a rain barrel or rain water tank or other Rain Harvest techniques.

Whether you decide to turn your back yard into a reed bed or not, the important thing is to find ways to help conserve energy. Everyone needs to take recycling seriously and do whatever he/she can to help the environment. Take some time to consider ways you can make a difference in the world in which you live!

Source: Debbie Allen (Debbie Allen is a blogger, freelance writer, and online marketer. Besides writing about issues related to the home and garden, she also covers small business management topics and self-development concerns).

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