Recycling Grey Water at Home

Drought and water restrictions mean many people are now using ‘grey water’ (ie. waste-water from non-toilet plumbing systems such as hand basins, washing machines, showers and baths) to help keep their lawns and gardens alive.

In order for this to succeed, you need to ensure that the washing detergents and household cleaners you choose to buy are ‘grey water friendly’ and don’t contain harsh chemicals, bleaches, disinfectants, or phosphates which will potentially kill the very plants you’re trying to care for.

All our Earth Choice, Organic Care and Natures Organics branded products are greywater safe other than Earth Choice dishwasher tablets.  

Your Guide to Using Grey Water Safely

Below are some general suggestions, but before setting up any grey water irrigation system, it is important to consult with your local council and a licensed plumber.

  • Never use ‘black water’ that has come in contact with toilet waste, including soiled nappies. This water has to be chemically treated and disinfected before it can be recycled.
  • Never re-use the wash water of domestic pets. It can have a high level of bacterial contamination.
  • Use mulch on garden beds to reduce evaporation and minimise the health risk of exposed, pooled water lying on the ground – this water may contain bacteria.
  • Don’t use grey water on edible plants that lie near the ground.
  • Sodium and salt levels found in wash water can accumulate in soil by the evaporation of water. To avoid build-up of salt, use fresh tap water every fourth watering to dilute.
  • Rather than frequent light surface watering, irrigate deeply in one go.
  • Check soil pH levels every 2-3 months.
  • Your grey water needs to be kept within the boundaries of your property.
  • Keep grey water out of your storm water.
  • Use a filter on grey water to remove contaminants like grease and slime that can block pipes.
  • Don’t store grey water for any longer than 24 hours as bacteria and microbes will quickly thrive.
  • Keep children well away from grey water.
  • Don’t allow your pets to drink grey water. 
  • Grey water from hand dishwashing should be used with discretion as any greases/oils can cause a coating on the soil, reducing its ability to absorb water.  Food residues can also become a breeding ground for bacteria so be wary.
     

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Regulations

The EPA and others advise that there are bacterial risks to using grey water and there are rules and regulations that should be adhered to. For more information on safe and acceptable grey water use, simply visit the following links to relevant sites

www.savewater.com.au

VIC - www.epa.vic.gov.au

NSW - www.sydneywater.com.au

SA - www.epa.sa.gov.au

TAS - www.dpiw.tas.gov.au

WA - www.portal.water.wa.gov.au

QLD - www.epa.qld.gov.au