Gallons and gallons of water go down the drain every day in your home. When you wash your hands, take a shower, or do the dishes, water going down the drain can quickly add up. In a state already facing water shortages, “reduce, reuse, and recycle” are words to live by in Colorado.
But how do you recycle water?
What Is Grey Water?
Grey water refers to all the wastewater in your home that doesn’t have septic material in it; basically, all the water that goes down a drain other than your toilet. It may come from sinks, showers, tubs, dishwashers, and washing machines. While it would need a commercial water treatment plant to be fit for human consumption again, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have other uses. Grey water is the kind of wastewater that can be recycled at home.
How Is Water Recycled in a Residential Grey Water Recycling System?
If your grey water doesn’t contain large amounts of salt, boron, or chlorine bleach from cleaning products, you can use it to irrigate your yard. It works best on ornamental plants, flowers, or fruit trees, but you can even use it to water vegetables. You just need to ensure that no grey water touches a part of the plant that you’ll eat. Otherwise, the water can be piped directly from your home into your yard.
Is Grey Water Recycling Safe?
Yes! Recycling grey water is safe, as long as you do it correctly. Grey water can have organic material in it, including fat, dirt, food, grease, hair, and traces of cleaning products. This debris is safe for your plants (in small amounts, in the case of cleaning products).
You can handle and consume plants fed by grey water, though you should minimize direct contact with the water itself. Don’t reroute so much grey water that you start to have issues with standing water in your yard. Standing pools make it easier to come into contact with wastewater and can lead to runoff that pollutes nearby ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams.
Can You Recycle All Your Home’s Wastewater?
No. Residential systems cannot recycle “black water,” or water from your toilets. If the water contains human waste, it must go through commercial water treatment or a septic system.
Additionally, grey water has a shelf life. You should only store grey water for 24 hours; after that, the compounds in it begin to break down and smell.
How to Recycle Grey Water: Getting Started
Grey water recycling should be set up by a professional plumber to ensure that no black water contaminates your recycled water. You’ll need a three-way valve that connects your drains to your water recycling system and to the sewer or septic tank to control where water drains.
Whether you want a simple, gravity-assisted drainage system or need pumps to irrigate a sloped yard, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Denver can help. An expert plumber can connect your new drainage pipes and irrigation system to your appliance drains or home plumbing. Once you have that set up, everything is ready for recycling to start!
Products to Avoid for Safe Water Recycling
Before you start recycling water, however, there are a few things you’ll need to avoid using. Grey water comes from sources where we use cleaning products: soap, detergent, shampoo, etc. These cleaning products need to be free of salt, boron, and chlorine bleach, all of which could harm your plants. Look for plant-friendly products that are biodegradable and non-toxic. If you have a water softener installed, check to see whether the filter is salt-based. A potassium filter is safe for plants, but a salt-based one isn’t.
Enjoy the Advantages of Grey Water Recycling
Want to know what recycling water does for you? Here are the benefits of grey water recycling:
Lowers your water bill.
Provides extra nutrients for your plants.
Saves water in an already water-poor state.
Reduces the chances of grey water polluting local bodies of water.
Low-cost and easy to maintain.