Reusing greywater benefits all

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Michele du Plessis

With the Sabie reservoirs running dry during the long load shedding hours, people are slowly but surely turning their attention to saving water for the necessary uses, such as drinking, cooking, toilets, bathing and laundry. But what about the litres that run down the drain pipes that can still be used for the garden or mopping floors? How can we preserve the grey water for other uses?

“There are not enough clear hours to fill the reservoirs. Even with the additional generator capacity from York, we are still battling to fill reservoirs,” Captain Gwilym Rees said.

On average, a household of four people will use between 300 to 400 l per day. Gardens account for 35% of domestic water consumption. There is concern over the hygienic aspects of grey water, but if used as soon as possible, bacteria will not be given time to produce.

Greywater is the recycled bath, shower and laundry water which can be used for the garden. Harvesting the greywater can be as simple as using a bucket to carry the water outside, or by using a complicated system to pump the water into a tank outside.

Greywater also contains nutrients derived from the residues of soaps in the water, which feed and nourish the soil and produces beautiful plants. It is also important to use “garden friendly” products and detergents that do not contain any salts, boron or bleach. Using the water from washing the dishes will harm the plants, due to the fat content.

Other advantages of using grey water are that it lowers the use of fresh water, there is less strain on the septic tank and sewerage systems and it is cost effective when UP to 80% of wastewater is reused. “In Cape Town “greywater” is a part of life. A bucket in the shower catches a mass amount of water for the thirsty plants in the garden. Washing machines can empty their contents into dustbins,” Debbie Moller said. “Until the power cuts stop, I suggest we have a campaign to save water, particularly on weekends. Then the reservoirs can be kept fuller. Spread the word and let’s make sure that we are part of the solution,” said Rupert Culwick.

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