South Africa is one of the driest countries in the world. If you look at the World Bank chart on average rainfall, the only nations that boast less rain than SA are practically all located in deserts.
What does this mean for you and me? Higher water prices. When something is a scarce resource, its value goes up and that means we pay more for it. Sure, you could decide to simply take shorter showers and maybe wear that shirt for more than a day. But what about your garden, your washing, flushing toilets and other parts of a home that need a bit of H2O?
Here is the good news: you already have enough water to get all of that done. Sadly we’re sending it down the drain. It’s called Greywater (or grey water) and it can really change your homelife.
What is Greywater (and Black or Darkwater)?
What is Greywater? Loosely speaking, it’s the used water from your house. This should be distinguished from Black or Darkwater, which is highly contaminated water. Darkwater is typically anything that involves biological waste such as food or feces: so water coming from a toilet or water that was used to wash dishes.
Greywater is everything else, though here the definition gets a little blurry. For example, water that has a lot of chemical detergents in it is not always suitable for reuse. But much of the water from a home can be readily recycled – especially to water gardens.
Some Greywater examples
- Shower Water
- Bath Water
- Basin Water
- Leftover drinking water
- Laundry Water
Why care about Greywater?
Between 50 and 80 percent of the water used in a home can qualify as Greywater (excluding the garden). Think about that: more than half the water you use can be recycled to another purpose. The savings alone on your water bill makes it worth thinking about Greywater.
The water that arrives through your tap has been filtered to be appropriate for drinking. But the water required for other household tasks does not need to be nearly as pure. For example, using water from the tap on your garden is a little like opening the good wine to make a sauce. It’s a huge waste. Greywater is much better suited for most of your home’s water use.
Is Greywater safe?
In one word: yes.
It is fair to be paranoid about water, as it is one of the places microbes breed and spread. Contaminated water remains responsible for some of the world’s nastiest diseases, such as cholera.
But this does not necessarily include Greywater. You shouldn’t be drinking the stuff, but most other uses are not as sensitive. It is though important to recycle Greywater properly if you don’t intend to use it immediately.
Statistically Greywater poses no danger: in the United States over 22 million people use Greywater systems and there has yet to be one reported case of illness.
How can you recycle Greywater?
Recycling greywater can be very simple: for example, you can put a container in the shower and then pour the captured water onto your plants.
But there isn’t much point in saving on water if you have to do a lot of work in the process, because now you are simply wasting time. Also, you can’t just store that water in a container: Greywater is likely to carry at least some organic materials, which can start to breed in the water. Greywater that isn’t stored properly can turn bad in as little as a day.
Greywater recycling systems depend on the water you will capture and how it should be treated. Such a system can be used to water your garden. This can involve filtering, chemical treatment or using biological agents to naturally strip out the bad stuff. The Greywater system should be installed correctly, which again depends on what you want done.
Companies such as Calcamite supply a wide range of Greywater treatment systems for every situation, family size and price. Talk to them and find out how you can save money and still have that garden looking lush.