Benefits and Drawbacks of Greywater Systems

Each situation requires consideration as to what kind of grey water system would work best but generally the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The golden rule of grey water systems is never to store the greywater for more than 24 hours in a water tank or other container. Greywater can potentially harbour undesirable bacteria which may be harmless in low concentrations but when greywater is stored in tanks for more than a day, the bacteria could multiply to dangerous levels. If you intend storing grey water for any length of time, it must be properly treated.

grey water systems
The average family of four can save about 30,000-40,000 gallons of water per year. Water saved from your greywater system can be put to use in landscaping either at the time of its original use, or saved for later as a resource for dryer times. Depending on your water storage tank capacity, greywater can be a cushion of water during drought. The water you save with graywater system will also reduce your water bill, if you live in an area with metered water.

Greywater reuse also has environmental benefits. Less wastewater is generated that would otherwise have to be treated and disposed of, and lower water use allows for greater amounts of water to remain in local watersheds and groundwater, benefiting wildlife and humans alike.

While you will save water there are drawbacks. Retrofiting your home with a greywater system can be quite expensive and intrusive to install dual plumbing for wastewater collection. Greywater systems are more cost effective if they are incorporated into new construction (or if you have to rework your plumbing system for other reasons), or if they are very simple systems. Families with large indoor water usage will benefit more than those with less indoor water use.

Also be aware that as the efficiency of indoor fixtures and appliances improves, there will be less water available for reuse. New high efficiency clothes washers, for example, can cut your water and energy use by 50% and are probably more cost-effective than installing a greywater system.

Greywater is limited to only a few uses, as it can pose health risks if used on food plants or for indoor uses other than toilet flushing. If you don’t have a landscape to irrigate, there may be no reason to do it. Soaps and other chemicals in greywater may also adversely affect some plants.


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