Extension Educator, Horticulture
You won't find any vacation brochures about greywater rafting. There isn't any level 5 greywater. Greywater is not nearly that exciting because it's waste water from showers, bathtubs, dishwashers, washing machines and sinks. It's basically any household water other than toilet water. About 65% of domestic wastewater is greywater. That can translate into as much as 40 gallons per person per day. For a family of 4 that's about 5,000 gallons of greywater a month which just about fills a backyard swimming pool.
What is in the greywater varies with its source, but may include bacteria, foam, hair, grease, soaps, detergents, oils and food particles. Sounds gross I know, but many times the water is quite clean. Just think of how many gallons we use just waiting to get that perfect temperature for our showers.
With this drought I've been thinking a lot about water and all the fresh water or just slightly "used" water that goes down the drain. I look at my thirsty plants and I feel guilty. Lately I feel like the bad guy in all those desert movies. You know the one that drinks the last drop of water from the canteen while the thirsty good guys melt into their clothes. While greywater doesn't need extensive treatment before it can be used for landscape watering, some precautions should be kept in mind.
In more arid regions of the U.S. some people have their plumbing systems set up to reuse greywater for irrigating the landscape. Our plumbing systems are just not set up that way. Recovering greywater for reuse is not as easy for us. For us it usually means a bucket brigade. I use a dish pan to collect my rinse water. If you decide to change your home plumbing to allow access to grey water, check with your local health department and a licensed plumber before making any changes. We take fresh water for granted so save water and shower with a friend.
July 30 at 11 a.m. - The Dog Days of Summer Flower Gardening at the Idea Garden on Lincoln Ave, south of corner of Florida and Lincoln; Urbana