With the country gripped by drought, residents are urged to save water and many have turned to grey water as a way to reduce their consumption. Lumka Nofemele spoke to Garden ResQ’s Mark Joubert to find out how to recycle.
Grey water is used water from the bath, shower, bathroom sinks and laundry. This fairly clean water is ideal for irrigating the garden, but does have its dos and don’ts.
Grew water dos and don’ts
“Installing a grey water system is the best way to save water,” says Joubert. “A grey water system should be connected only to pipes that run from the bath, shower and laundry,” Joubert warns potential clients. “Water from the kitchen sink and toilets is referred to as black water or sullage and must never be used in a grey water system.”
Kitchen water often contains animal and vegetable matter, which could affect your garden soil negatively, forming a fat layer in your soil that prevents your water penetration. Chemicals used in your dishwasher are also very alkaline and, this too, could have negative effects on the garden.
If you are going to use a grey water system you have to be careful about the chemicals you use every day. “Bath oils, bubble bath and bath salts should be used sparingly,” says Joubert.
“There are ranges of chemical-free cleaners on the market – these come highly recommended as they do not harm flora or fauna, even in large doses. General household cleaners are safe in the quantities recommended on their labels. If you are to use your washing machine grey water, please ensure that you use a biodegradable washing powder.”
Grey water is best put to use immediately. “Grey water stored for any period of time will be devoid of oxygen, which is a requirement of the plants and lawn you wish to water. Stagnant grey water not only gives off a terrible odour, but is also a breeding ground for bacteria.”
Water recycling: the basics
You will need:
1. A surge tank
2. An irrigation system
Grey water systems can range from R6 000 to R20 000, excluding installation. Luckily the system is relatively easy to install. “A DIY handyman should be able to install a grey water system in the average home,” says Joubert. “However, there is minor plumbing work involved to connect the unit to the existing downpipes.”
According to Joubert, maintenance takes no more than five minutes. “Should you notice a slight odour when you irrigate, flush the surge tank with a jet of water from your garden hose once the unit has been disconnected from the main power supply. This direct jet of water will loosen any grime that has built up over the months. A litre of white vinegar may be added to the unit for 30 minutes before activating the pump again. It is good practice to flush the system with fresh water in this way every few weeks.”