What is greywater, and why should I use it?

Greywater is simply wastewater from sources other than the toilet, but is normally understood to be water from the shower, bath, hand basins, washing machine and laundry trough.

Water from the kitchen (both sink and dishwasher) is discharged directly to the sewer or septic system along with water from the toilet due to the potential for high levels of grease, oil and solids to cause blockages in the filters or pump.

Greywater isn't stored in a tank but applied to the garden straight away. It doesn't smell and if used in a well-designed irrigation system is good for the plants and has no negative impacts on the soil.

Why We Should be Using Greywater

Greywater is a viable alternative water source for reducing mains water demand. It can provide irrigation for gardens, and with additional treatment it can also be used for flushing toilets and washing clothes.

Using mains water on our gardens is not the best use of a high quality, valuable resource which we should be looking to conserve. Reusing greywater is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward process which meets the water requirements of residential gardens in a more sustainable way which can keep them green throughout summer regardless of water restrictions.

We don't make best use of this resource due mainly to a lack of understanding and knowledge. In fact, one unfortunate response has been to replace lawns and gardens with paving and artificial turf - which only serves to make our neighbourhoods hotter, harder and less biodiverse.

Reusing greywater in the garden has multiple benefits, not just for the homeowner, but also more widely across the suburbs in terms of cooler, greener neighbourhoods.

Benefits of Greywater Reuse

The many benefits achievable with greywater reuse include:

• Significant savings on the amount of scheme water used

Reusing greywater makes for significant water savings, and hence reduced water bills, by reducing the amount of mains water used for irrigation. Typically as much as 40% of the water we use each year goes on our garden, and it's possible to replace much of this with greywater - depending on factors such as the size of home, number of occupants and landscape design and maintenance.

• Greywater is generally good for plants

The nutrient content in greywater, primarily from the nitrogen and phosphorus contained in laundry water, benefits many garden plants growing in Western Australia’s ancient depleted soils and would otherwise be discharged to sewer

• Restriction-free water supply

In addition to saving water, greywater reuse ensures a regular supply of irrigation water that is typically consistent on a daily basis and not limited by water restrictions, resulting in greener gardens and landscapes.

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