Reusing greywater to water lawns and gardens could save up to 50,000 litres of drinking water per home each year.
Greywater is recycled water from domestic use in the home. It includes water from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines and can be used on the garden or treated and reused in your washing machine, toilet or garden. Greywater from the kitchen (including dishwashers) should not be used because the concentration of food wastes and soil organisms do not readily break down chemicals.
According to Sydney Water, "Approximately 61 per cent of the total wastewater produced by an average household can be used as greywater. Kitchen wastewater is not usually included in this amount."
There are three main ways to reuse greywater:
Using greywater can keep your garden lush during periods of low rainfall, but you need to get it right, as it’s possible to damage your soil, plants or even put your family and pets at risk.
A diversion greywater system can be set up easily by installing a “diverter” to the drainage pipes from your bathroom, and laundry. However, it is recommended that you have a licensed plumber do this work. A simple start may be to use a bucket to bail out the bath or shower.
In most states you do not need permission to divert greywater from the shower and washing machine for immediate use on the garden. If you are going to install a greywater treatment system make sure the system is accredited by your state water authority and local council and that it is installed by a licensed Plumber.
There are a number of greywater treatment systems available that will treat the greywater so it can be stored for later use. Installation of a greywater treatment system generally requires a local council permit.
Greywater treatment systems will usually process the greywater through the following steps:
The federal and most state governments offer generous rebates for installing a rainwater tank or greywater systems. Check our rebates and assistance page for more details. The Smart Watermark website lists local government rebates that may also be available.
Fresh water is the life blood of nature, the subordination of water for human purposes comes at the health of those natural systems that support humans in other ways (clean our air, moderate our environment, provide us with food). So we need to nourish, share and learn to value this lifeblood. The consequences of doing otherwise can be seen in the spreading deserts across the world and the drought and famine that can soon follow.
Many rivers and wetland systems in Australia are under stress from human withdrawal of water. River red gums, fish breeding stocks and the estuary systems at the end of these rivers are dying. The human need for water is continuing to expand in the face of this silent death of our rivers. This action moves us toward being as efficient with our water use as nature is.
Clean fresh water from the tap is, for most people in the world, a luxury. As the Australian water supply is stretched, recycled and sterilised at the expense of our waterways we expose ourselves to toxic algae, chemically treated water and an increased vulnerability to severe drought. Many people across the globe are not so lucky, and a lack of water and associated diseases kills tens of millions of children each year. So water wisely, and conserve this precious resource.
Upper Hunter Shire Council is a local government authority and provides an extensive array of services including health and building; town planning; aged care; sporting and recreational facilities; roads; libraries; garbage collection; airport facilities; saleyards; public venues; water; children, youth and families and tourist information.