Water Recycling: Save Water at Home by Using Greywater

Posted on: July 28, 2015

It’s no secret that water is California’s most precious and elusive commodity right now.

Water restrictions have been enforced, showers have been shortened, and green traditional lawns have become a source of environmental concern.

If you’ve already gotten a hang of the one-minute shower, there are other ways like water recycling to reduce your water-related footprint.

In this article, you can learn the benefits and techniques for saving greywater from your laundry machine, sink, and bathtub as well as where not to use water recycling.

What is water recycling and greywater?

Disclaimer: We have outlined the process for greywater and its benefits, but please do research for your area to decide if it is right for you.

There’s a ton of reusable water going right down your drain in the form of greywater—this is relatively clean run-off water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and kitchen appliances. While this water isn’t suitable for consumption, it can be a vital resource for sub-surface irrigation. Greywater should NEVER touch the edible part of a plant—meaning that veggies aren’t good candidates for greywater irrigation.

Regulation design of the Laundry-to-landscape system. Image credit: San Diego County Environmental Health

Keep in mind that greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and cleaning products. This results in the need of a filter before releasing it into the garden due to health concerns. However, what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in benefits for plants and lawns.

Greywater is not water that has come into contact with feces, either from the toilet or from washing diapers.

Why should I recycle my water at home?

Reusing your greywater keeps it out of the sewer and septic system. Water recycling provides a dependable, locally controlled water supply for your use at home to save money and help the environment.

How can my recycled water be reused?

The main takeaway from greywater is its value for home irrigation.

Water Recycling: How Does it Work at Home?

Greywateraction.org is working to create sustainable water culture for the future. We have used their website as a resource to learn more about water recycling and greywater use. This collaboration of educators believe that “decentralized conservation measures can play a critical role in drought resilience, climate adaptation, and the return of healthy stream ecosystems.”

Laundry to Landscape: If your laundry room has an exterior wall, the greywater pipe can be laid to travel directly outside for irrigation. If your laundry room has an interior wall, the greywater pipe will exit through the floor and travel through the crawl space below.Crucial Tip: A biological filter must be installed or you will only be able to use the rinse-cycle water.

  • Materials only $100-$250
  • Full installation $700-$2,000

Branched Drains System From Shower: This pump free system has exposed shower piping formed with a three-way valve, allowing some water to drain as usual and some to be recycled. Although time consuming to install, once finished Branched Drains require very little maintenance and work well for the long term.Crucial Tip: You should also install a biological filter to catch all of the excess hair lost in the shower.

  • Materials only $200-$400
  • Full installation $800-$3,000

Laundry Drum: This system is ideal for rental situations, as it doesn’t alter the plumbing of the house. Also great for people with a hardscape (concrete/patio) between your house and the area to irrigate, we recommend a laundry drum system.Crucial Tip: This option does not require the purchase of a permit in San Diego.

Greywater Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does a greywater system require a plumbing permit?
    • According to the city of San Diego Development Services, all greywater systems do require a plumbing permit. The only exception is a clothes washer system. Learn more.
  • Can I allow my greywater to discharge to the ground surface?
    • Greywater can potentially contain high levels of bacteria and viruses in greywater and therefore is can not be used where there is potential for human contact.
  • Can greywater be used for drip irrigation?
    • The system will become quickly clogged from particles in greywater and to successfully use it for drip irrigation you will need to install and consistently clean a filter.
  • Can water be used from the dishwasher?
    • The detergents for dishwashers are typically high in salt and is therefore harmful to plants. Either direct to a portion of the yard with salt tolerant plants.
  • Can I use greywater for a pond, creek, or waterfall?
    • Greywater is not clean enough for safe human contact and needs to be treated before being used in a pond or water feature.

Now what should I do after water recycling?

Water recycling can be a great way to keep your garden looking lush, but it’s doubly helpful to have a more luxurious and sustainable outdoor landscape to start. Switching to a drought-tolerant lawn is a practical, eco-conscious way to lower your water use while even increasing your curb appeal and a major initiative as one of our eco-friendly landscape construction techniques.

Sculptural plants and boulders are used to create a low maintenance landscape in Clairemont, CA.

Some of California’s most beautiful natural landscape comes from the desert—from the beautiful clay palette to the bursts of color from succulents and cactus flowers. Recreate this setting by using native plants that thrive in an arid climate. Succulents like Panda, Desert Willow, and California Fuchsia require very little upkeep and are perfectly happy drinking all that greywater we talked about up there

Want to get a little creative with all that slate and clay? Make an outdoor oasis using natural stone pavers, complete with a fire pit—or even an outdoor kitchen. Hang a vertical garden along the walls to create a living work of art. The result is a multi-functional living space that looks as good as it makes the environment feel.

With water recycling we can all do our part to save water

Whether you’re ready to make a big change at home with a full San Diego Landscape Construction or you just want to make a difference, recycling your greywater is an excellent first step. There are plenty of options for execution of water recycling and the results offer both long term and immediate benefits, both for the environment and your home

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