Would You/Could You Use Greywater?

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Greywater [Wikipedia]

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  1. k8supergrover says:

    What do I care if the water I use when I wash my hands goes into the toilet to be flushed…sounds like a good idea to me.

  2. strathmeyer says:

    It’s not disgusting, it’s just unnecessary. How much does water cost? I’ve recently been seeing rainwater reclamation buckets, where gutter runoff is fed into bins outside the house that are later used to water the garden/lawn. All I can think is, does it really same more water than is wasted building a giant plastic container, transporting it to people’s homes, and later disposing of it? Seems like people will do anything to be able to pretend to be better than others.

  3. TheJackOfHearts says:

    Disgusting, sure. As said above, why would I care if I watered my fields with dirty water?

  4. dbeahn says:

    Grey water is harvested on a city-wide level in some places, and used to watering lawns. People really seem to enjoy paying next to nothing to water with it…

  5. igj says:

    Both, obviously.

    And it doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else…that is just a silly defensive attitude. Greywater, pumped out of my washing machine for example, doesn’t need to be stored…it can get pumped straight into the garden. It doesn’t use any extra energy (the pumping is going to happen, no matter where the water ends up) and it causes me to use a little less of a natural resource. I don’t see where the ‘better than thou’ attitude creeps into it.

  6. VA_White says:

    Water is very precious where I live and there is a lot of new investment in greywater infrastructure. I think it’s a good thing.

    Hopefully one day, Tucsonans will have two water lines to their house – a grey and a potable. The grey will get hooked up to the irrigation system and the toilets, the potable will come out of the faucets.

    There is no reason to irrigate soccer fields and golf courses anyplace with potable water. It’s even dumber to do it in the desert.

  7. B says:

    Considering that the greywater would have cleaners and solvents from the washing of dishes, etc, along with any bacteria from the handling of raw meats, is it really a good idea to be dumping it in your lawn or garden?

  8. Red_Eye says:

    Disney World uses it to water the grass.

    The Bellagio’s famous fountains in Las Vegas are filled with 27 million gallons of Grey Water.

    Unfortunately we are in a drought (with 100% watering BAN [ccwageorgia.com] ) but it is Illegal here according to the dept of environmental health to use the GreyWater for any use other than wasting it by putting it into my septic tank. I’d love to keep my lawn green instead of a crunchy fire hazard, and I hate to see my cherry tree die but what choice do i have fines are up to $1000.

  9. bdgbill says:

    @igj:

    When I lived in Florida my washing machine pumped straight into a small garden of decorative plants and trees in front of the house. You have never seen happier plants!

    I’m not a scientist but I imagine that the plants were actually using some of the harmful ingredients such as phosophorus from the soap.

  10. alpha says:

    if it was automated and filtered of the “bad” such as soaps as mentioned above then hell yes.

    until then I’m not going to waste my time or energy to carry a bucket from my sink to my toilet.

  11. spanky says:

    @strathmeyer:

    Cost isn’t the only concern. As far as any waste involved with manufacturing and transporting the buckets, I don’t know about those specific cases, but that could pretty easily be accomplished with existing receptacles.

    Right now, I have the water from my sump pump pointed at my tomato garden, and I’d certainly consider using gray water for all my irrigation and some household use, too.

  12. bluemeep says:

    I know a lot of places here in Orlando use reclaimed water for their watering needs… It does the job and probably saves a pretty penny, but man does it ever stink.

    I can’t personally see opening up my sinks plumbing and sticking a bucket down there instead. It sounds like a lovely idea that’d be great for the environment if we all did it on a global scale…but I’m a complete scatterbrain half the day. That damn bucket overflowing because I forgot to empty it would be a near daily occurance!

  13. superlayne says:

    Just think of all the little kids who go to the bathroom in their tubs, though.
    For potty water? Yes.
    Irrigation? Less so.

  14. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    If you had a well and a septic system both with limited capacity, as I do with a piece of country property I own, you’d learn to conserve water pretty fast. This is one of the most common and sensible ways to do it.

    Remember this technique if you’re ever in a natural disaster or other emergency where you have to live on stored water.

  15. JuliusJefferson says:

    Worries about watering your plants with the chemical from soaps?

    Easy, just use “environmentally friendly” hand and dishwashing soap (most of these are just really concentrated and so you use less). Also use the laundry detergent without perfumes or dyes. This will work pretty well on an individual basis, although because it’s more expensive it will probably cancel out the water savings.

  16. kidnextdoor says:

    I’m sure like most people, I have many shades of grey water. So, yeah…light grey water would not be an issue. Dark grey water, maybe an issue.

  17. brew400 says:

    so hippies are using buckets now, eh?

  18. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @bdgbill:

    Same state & same situation. The grass is definitely greener on that side of the house.

  19. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @superlayne: It’s fertilizer, hello?

  20. Asvetic says:

    I’m surprised there aren’t more advanced plumbing technologies that drain water from one source and refuel another. A bucket under the basin sounds pretty low tech.

    A direct line from the drain of a sink to the back of a commode would be ideal. Depending on the level of contamination, a filtering system would be necessary for anything involving direct connection with greywater, such as irrigation.

    And there are earth and human friendly solvents that could easily replace harmful chemical laden ones.

    I have city water, so this isn’t much of an issue for me. But, I could see it being relevant for someone with an on-site well.

  21. bambino says:

    Greywater is used in many ‘sustainable’ buildings. See the LEED website.

  22. anatak says:

    @strathmeyer:
    What you are talking about is rainwater harvesting. This can be done on small (barrels under downspouts) and large (cisterns large enough to supply commercial buildings) scales. While you may initially find it silly, it has many benefits other than water costs.
    1. if your are concerned about ecology and economy, you can build these out of used, food-grade barrels for about $10-15 each.
    2. rainwater is much better for your plants than that crap the city pumps through the tap.
    3. rainwater is much better for you than that crap the city pumps through the tap.
    4. there is less runoff and soil erosion.
    5. people like RED_EYE can easily store a few hundred gallons from the rainy season to use for watering during drought conditions.

  23. Imhotep says:

    We’ve used grey water from our bathtub and washing machine to water our fruit trees in the backyard. It’s as simple as using a pump to run the water through a hose out to where it’s needed. Totally safe as long as your shampoos and detergents are biodegradable. Our trees were always healthy and full of fruit.

    Plus it was kind of a necessity when we were on a septic system. Sure beats draining that stanky thing!

  24. Canadian Impostor says:

    @superlayne: Who cares if greywater has trace amounts of urine in it? It’s not going to hurt the inside of your toilet or your vegetables.

  25. marciepooh says:

    I’d like to point out that there seem to be two definitions for greywater.

    Some municipalities collect waste water treat it (to the same standards as regular tap water) and it is sold back to costumers, as “greywater” and often for much less that regular water, for irrigation, washing machines… just not kitchen sinks, fridge ice makers, and the like. Note that this type of grey water is treated to exactly the same standards as the regular tap water it is only in our heads that there is a difference. It is cheaper because the cost of obtaining the water and moving it is greatly reduced.

    To all those saying “but water is cheap” – it may be where you live but not everywhere and clean water is always a limited resource.

    We are all drinking dinosaur pee anyway.

  26. Chicago7 says:

    Don’t pee in the sink, though. Your acid pee eats right through those thin pipes.

    /advice from a plumber

  27. MostNutsEver says:

    We should use use greywater for toilets. Irrigation is a little trickier, but I wouldn’t be at all worried about getting some bacteria into the ground. After all, its not like you can’t find bacteria everywhere anyways. And not all bacteria is bad. Especially when you aren’t eating it.

  28. spidra says:

    @strathmeyer: How much does water cost?


    There are many ways of measuring “cost” and clearly you’re only thinking about what your water company charges *you right now*. However, water costs a lot in terms of the infrastructure needed to gather and transport it. That means not only the actual costs of building aqueducts themselves, but the effect on productivity and the economy that comes from taking water from one area of the country and shipping it to another. Ask Mexicans what they think about the Colorado River being tapped into so many times on its way to the Gulf of California and what it’s done to their economy. Ask longtime Phoenix natives what they think about the weather changes they’ve experienced due to the increase of irrigation. Plus it’s naive to think that longterm fiddling with river courses and aquifers doesn’t affect where and how much water is available worldwide. Patterns have been changed in ways people didn’t foresee and established populations of people are being affected by this.

    A major chunk of the history of modern California could be taught simply by looking at water use. It’s a recurring issue in state history.

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    On a personal basis, it makes sense for me to take my bathwater and use it to water the garden than to send the bathwater down the drain and draw drinking water from a faucet and use that to water. It’s cheaper for me to reuse. And given that we have next-to-no snowpack in the Sierras right now, it’s better for me and my community to conserve.

    I hope one day to afford to get a plumber to build in some greywater piping, but right now I just bail water out of the bathtub and into watering cans.

  29. SeattleGuy says:

    I am so in favor of this idea. In fact, when I complete the bathroom in my basement I plan on installing one of these:

    [www.sinkpositive.com]

    The water comes from the same source as the regular toilet tank water so it’s cold only. But it will be a viable option for the post-pee hand wash, at least during the summer months, we’ll see about the winter months.

  30. Pixel says:

    If I was building a new house, or completely redoing one I’d seriously consider putting in a provision for rainwater collection and greywater re-use.
    And it wouldn’t be difficult at all to at the same time set it up so with the twist of a valve the greywater is diverted to the sewer if you know you don’t want that batch of water being reused (like when I’m washing automotive chemicals off my hands).

  31. Anitra says:

    Is it a good idea? Yes.

    But I’m not going to use a bucket to flush my toilet.

    If anything, I have a problem with too much water in my house. Our yard never needs watering, and we have to run a dehumidifier and sump pump in the basement.

  32. superlayne says:

    @Jason: I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to eat anything grown in urine water.

  33. bhall03 says:

    Sorry, but with this headline…

    I would not use it in the sink, in the bath or for a drink.
    I would not, could not use greywater.

    I probably would, but I could not pass this up.

  34. mepaul says:

    Using grey water sounds like a good idea, but their have been some studies that indicate it could transmit e. coli if the water ends up watering your tomato plants, etc.

    Just trying to use less water should not be forgotten.

  35. uricmu says:

    Graywater is not urine, but I’m not sure what the big deal is with “plants irrigated with urine”, considering that the mulch we used to feed the plants isn’t exactly sterile either, and since, as we’ve seen earlier this week, at Taco Bell you get your urine straight on the food.

  36. I wrote a paper on this in law school. Well, not specifically gray water, but on international agreements and water transfers.

    Singapore has no native sources of water (aside from a few rainwater collection resevoirs) and used to have to import all of its water from Malaysia.

    Realizing this was a problem in the long run, Singapore invested both in de-salinization technology and in water reclaimation. The latter yielded newater, which seems to be working well for them.

    Water reclaimation is coming, one way or another, to the US. This country’s water supply is being too heavily abused (see Spidra’s comment above for a good discussion)

  37. Red_Eye says:

    @superlayne: So I take it you only eat genetically lab grown food? One of the common ingredients in most fertilizers is urea ( [en.wikipedia.org] ). Of course I dont need to tell you what manure is…

  38. clarient says:

    Because watering planets with urine water is so much worse than using composts with rotted fruits, vegetables, tea bags, egg shells, grass cuttings, dryer lint, hair, and manure. All of these are recommended ingredients for a successful and nutrient rich compost.

    FYI, kitchen rinse water is actually a good addition to your compost pile as well. And you can actually drink your own urine to rehydrate yourself under extreme conditions.

  39. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Neighborhood dogs and deer never, ever, go in your gardens, either, I suppose. “Urine water.” Gosh.

  40. MercuryPDX says:

    @superlayne: Doesn’t it all go to the same place anyway?

  41. krcasey says:

    “Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine? No, but I do it anyway because it’s sterile and I like the taste.” -Patches O’Houlihan

  42. Youthier says:

    @superlayne: I wouldn’t frequent any local farmers then. Most of the locals here (including my family) use pond water to irrigate. Pond water that has dead fish, rotting muskrat carcasses, dog pee, and all sorts of lovely muck. Plus, passing male motorists typically use the field as a pit stop. I suppose it’s gross but I don’t hear of many people dying from fresh produce.

  43. spanky says:

    Nevermind what DIRT is made out of in the first place. Poop and pee and corpses and turnips and all kinds of other nasty stuff.

  44. @strathmeyer: “it’s just unnecessary.”

    In some parts of the country, it’s ENTIRELY necesesary.

    @B: “Considering that the greywater would have cleaners and solvents from the washing of dishes, etc, along with any bacteria from the handling of raw meats, is it really a good idea to be dumping it in your lawn or garden?”

    Solvents scary enough to kill your lawn may not be allowed in your sewer system anyway — not that everybody’s not doing it. The bacteria won’t really bother your plants and detergents are actually very good insecticides for plants, as long as they’re not too highly concentrated.

    I might not use it on Aunt Bettina’s Prized And Very Touchy Antique Roses That Get Weekly pH Testing, but my lawn gets “greywater” from the washing machine and couldn’t care less; we save shower greywater when we’re in drought (and hose-restricted) to save our other plantings and have never had a problem. In the western US, entire hotels do ALL their landscaping care with greywater. Greywater treatment is also fairly easy to install for a larger building.

    @speedwell: “Neighborhood dogs and deer never, ever, go in your gardens, either”

    And chipmuncks don’t pee in it and birds don’t shit on it. ;) This sounds like someone who’s never found a surprise chigger in the garden-fresh lettuce, lol.

  45. moniker42 says:

    World. War. Three.

  46. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I would use it if I had to, but otherwise, what would I be saving? I live out in the middle of nowhere and have to have my own private well and septic system, so there’s really no point at resorting to greywater usage.

  47. Brazell says:

    If I washed my hands, I wouldn’t care about using that to drop a deuce into….. but I don’t think I’d use it to shower in.

  48. Brazell says:

    @superlayne:

    Yeah. right…….. little kids………..

  49. astrochimp says:

    Would You/Could You Use Greywater?

    Greywater, water everywhere, so let’s all have a drink!

  50. FLConsumer says:

    @strathmeyer: It’s actually quite necessary in some areas. Florida’s water supply is quickly being outpaced by demand. Some areas of FL have both “irrigation-grade” recycled sewage water and potable water lines. Same principle. I wouldn’t mind having a graywater tank here, BUT, using ultra-efficient 0.9 gallon per flush toilets here, I’d never use enough water flushing the toilet to use all of the graywater made. It’s almost always cheaper to conserve resources than make new ones.

  51. eli_b says:

    We already do this. My family and I use dishwater, etc. and also collect rainwater to water other flowers and plants later. Works like a charm.

  52. mattbrown says:

    no, but I frequently fight The Pirates of Blackwater.

  53. sallysings says:

    We already use this, and Ontario is in no way out of water…with the lakes and all. We use the baby’s bath water for flushing the toilet and rinsing out his soapy clothes.

    Las Vegas runs on grey water – fountains, golf courses, lawns – I think all golf courses everywhere should do the same. I mean, it’s just grass.

  54. Loquacious Verbosity says:

    @ STRATHMEYER and others who say that it is disgusting or unnecessary:
    I suggest you try living in somewhere like the East Coast of Australia (where I live) which has been in drought for the last seven years.
    With certain dams at 13% capacity (70% and over is a healthy amount) we are at level 5 water restrictions, meaning each household (not person, household-regardless of one person or twenty) has 120 Litres (a bit over 21 gallons) of water to use per day. That includes for use in dishwashers, showers, toilets, pools, washing machines and any other place you use water aside from just washing your hands and drinking.
    With recycling programs (yes that means recycling ALL used water- even the stuff you really -wouldn’t- want to drink), a billion dollar desalination plant in the works, and very very tough water restrictions in place, grey water becomes somewhat more necessary. Team that with a recent price hike for water and its either use grey water or cry when you see your bill, plus the fines you accumulate if the water inspectors catch you using precious water.
    I would be so happy if I lived somewhere where water was cheap and plentiful enough that I could be so wasteful. But alas, it is 3 minute showers and the old ‘if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow’ approach. Which totally grosses me out when my housemates follow it so strictly. *shudder*

  55. TechnoDestructo says:

    @daisythecow:

    I’m surprised Arizona isn’t like that.

    Goddamn Californians (and others, too, but they’re the ones who’ve been displaced the least distance) just can’t live without a damn lawn.

    It’s not just unnatural, it’s fucking VULGAR.

    If I were in charge, any plant that isn’t adapted to the desert/can’t live without watering would have to be kept indoors. And screw fines. Prison.

  56. FLConsumer says:

    @daisythecow: 21 gallons/day doesn’t sound bad at all to me. My washer uses 8-14 gallons per load, dishwasher uses ~6 gallons per load, toilets use 0.9 gallons/flush. If I only use the “efficient” showerhead instead of the guzzlers I have, I’d be down to 1 gallon/minute for the shower. The only lifestyle change I’d have to make to reach 21 gallons/day would be changing out my showerhead from the Speakman Anystream I have (same model as the White House has) to something more efficient.

  57. eli_b says:

    @FLConsumer: The White House must have a good showerhead to wash all that blood and oil off their hands each day.

  58. kc-guy says:

    Anyone remember the post from a few days ago discouraging placing a brick in the tank because of the trace amounts brick it would send into the toiler? What would a raddish do?

    Kitchen sinks need to go to the drain with the toilet or into a compost pile…bathroom sinks/bathwater are a different matter.

  59. FLConsumer says:

    I wouldn’t “brick” a toilet — they design these fixtures to use a certain amount of water. Use less than that and you’re not going to get the performance it was designed for. Even if it appears to flush well, it might not be capable of pushing the “waste” as far down the sewer pipe as it was supposed to.