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Reduce Water Usage by Recycling Graywater


California's growing water crisis highlights the importance of making a concerted effort to conserve water. Although outfitting your home with equipment (e.g. low-flow toilets) that reduces the amount of water you use is a good first step, you can decrease your water consumption further while also contribute to local water resources by installing a graywater system in your home. Here's more information about this option.

What is a Graywater System?

When you take a bath, wash clothes, or turn on your dishwasher, the water used in those activities is sent through the sewer system to a water treatment plant where it is cleaned of solid elements and reused for other purposes or sent to the ocean. A graywater system captures that gently used water and redirects it to a yard or garden.

There are several benefits to recycling your graywater. First, the water is an excellent source of nutrients for the plants on your property. Contrary to common beliefs, water from sinks, bathtubs, and washing machines is generally not as toxic as you would think. The biological elements (e.g. germs, skin cells) and other substances from soaps and cleaners can actually help plants grow better than if you used plain water to keep them hydrated.

A second benefit is that the plants and soil will act as natural filters that clean the water of potentially harmful elements and send the purified water to the local water shed where it can be reused in the community.

Lastly, a graywater system can help reduce your water bill and consumption overall since you're not drawing additional water to feed your lawn or garden.

What Can the Water Be Used For?

Because graywater does contain substances that can harm human or animal health if consumed directly, it's only suitable for irrigating plants, grass, and trees. According to the advocacy group Greywater Action, this system is great for irrigating food plants such as fruit trees or vegetables as long as the water doesn't touch the food directly.

Trees, bushes, and perennials in particular do well with this type of system because they are better able to survive irregular watering patterns.

Setting Up a System

A graywater system can be as simple or complex as you need. The simplest system you can implement involves running an outflow pipe from your washing machine to your garden. Washing machines already have built-in pumps that do the work of pushing the water through the pipe to its final destination. All you need to do with this system is design your irrigation system so that the water gets to where you want it.

A more complex system usually involves diverting water from sinks, bathtubs, and the washing machine to a temporary storage tank, where it is then distributed to the waiting plants. The complexity of your system depends on your goals and the lay of your land. For instance, if your garden sits at a higher elevation than your home, then you may need to install a pump to push the water uphill to the preferred area.

Installing a graywater system may involve making some renovations to the home, so it's a good idea to talk to a building contractor as well as a plumber about the changes that need to be made to make this a feasible option for you.

Special Considerations

The use of a graywater system will require you to make some changes in your personal habits. Particularly, you'll have to start using cleaning and bathing products that don't contain salt, salt compounds, boron, or bleach. Plants are particularly sensitive to salt, but all of these compounds can harm your lawn or garden.

Most systems will also integrate a switch that will let you redirect graywater to the sewer system rather than your garden. This can help you avoid sending contaminated graywater to the garden, such as water mixed with bleach that you use to clean your bathroom. You'll have to get into the habit of making sure this switch is set correctly whenever you use the washing machine or sinks.


The cost of a graywater system can vary greatly depending on the type of system you install. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $2,000 for a laundry-only system. Larger or more complex system can cost between $800 and $4,000. A high-end automated pump system can cost as much as $20,000.

For more information about setting up a graywater system in your home, contact a plumber in your area through resources like http://www.cblucashvac.com.


28 July 2015