Cape Town is currently suffering one of its worst droughts in years and, at the time of writing this blog, our dams were sitting at a paltry 42.5% full.
Not one’s to get down and out, we thought it would be a good idea to throw a few ideas out to help you all with setting up your own DIY grey water systems…
First things first, there are a couple of golden rules…
- Its best practice not to store grey water for any length of time. Untreated grey water can turn anaerobic pretty quickly. This is the perfect environment for pathogenic bacteria to thrive. In an ideal scenario, grey water is best used immediately or at the very least stored for a matter of hours (less than 24hrs) at the most but not days.
- According to Art Ludwig from Oasis Design, a reputable grey water installer in California, USA, it is best to lose grey water into the subsoil – in fact, the micro-organisms in healthy soil are some of the best filters and purifiers of grey water you can find.
- To avoid potentially breathing in harmful pathogens, it is best not to spray Grey Water through microjets or irrigation sprayers, rather use it under mulch layers directly or, if filtered enough, through dripper systems in the garden.
- Be mindful of the cleaning products and detergents you’re using in the house. Wherever possible, use earth friendly and natural soaps and detergents. Before you start broad-scale use of grey water, test a small area of the garden first to avoid killing all your plants. “If in doubt, throw it out”.
So why use grey water (because my garden is DYING!!!) – of course – but besides that, here are some other good reasons …
- You will lower your use of sweet water (#obviously)
- Less strain on municipal treatment plants (ref – sewerage plumes along the coast)
- Recharging ground water systems that are nailed through borehole and well point use
- Increased awareness of what cleaning products are used
- Effectively using nutrients that would otherwise get wasted down the drain
If you’re wanting to give it a go yourself, here are some simple ways you can harvest your grey water… Follow the guidelines above when attempting the following:
- Keep it simple – use a basin in the shower. An average shower rose can release as much as 20litres per minute. Keep showers short and sweet. A basin can be filled and thrown on the lawn outside or in your beds after the shower. The same can be done for baths and sinks.
- Attach a valve and T-piece to your pipework outside. From this you can attach a hose which you can place wherever in the garden needs water. For this to work, you’ll need a bit of height so the water can effectively gravity-feed to your lawn or beds.
- An average washing machine uses around 70litres per load. Plumb your washing machine into a black bin, from here you can use a small submersible pump attached to a hose and run this into your garden.
We’ve actually been enjoying seeing how much water we can save the last few months, after all, there is nothing like a bit of adversity to bring out that pioneering and resilient spirit.
If you’d like advice on best practice or would like us to come and install, get in touch and we’ll gladly look at helping you take your home a little more off-grid!