Grey water Five ways to beat the drought and cut your water bill
Come rain or water restrictions, we’d better get used to South Africa being a water-scarce country. Nick Dall investigates how you can use grey water to drastically reduce your reliance on the trusty old tap.
P ut simply, there is no way South Africans can survive if current population trends and water-usage patterns continue. In 2016 a drought crippled the north of country, while the first half of 2017 has been the Western Cape’s turn to go without water. While the government may have to increase supply at some point, we can all play our part in reducing demand through a few simple interventions – from planting waterwise gardens, harvesting rainwater and minimising toilet flushing to reusing grey water.
Reusing grey water may be a great idea but for many this is still shrouded in a faintly stagnant cloak of mystery.
What is grey water?
Grey water is defined as water that comes from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines. Depending on the system you use, grey water can be utilised to water your garden, flush your loo and, in some (expensive) cases, to fill your pool and do your laundry. Water from toilets and bidets is classed as black water, and water from the kitchen (and especially the dishwasher) is a no-no too.
The following rules apply if you plan on reusing grey water for irrigation:
• Use phosphate-free laundry detergent Surf, Omo and Ariel are all okay but Skip is not. • Avoid bleach-based cleaning products Sodium-hypochlorite, to give it its proper name, which is present in Jik, Domestos and several other products, is bad. Handy Andy, however, is great for your garden.
• Continue with ablutions as usual If it’s gentle enough for your skin, it’s fine for the garden.
Choose the right system
If you shower with buckets on the floor and then use this water to flush the loo, you’re engaging in grey-water recycling at its most basic. The same goes for diverting your washing-machine outlet onto the lawn or throwing tubs of bathwater on your roses. DIY hacks such as these are better than nothing and are cheap too. But they can’t possibly