EV­ERY drop counts!

Now more than ever, it’s vi­tal to know the facts about grey wa­ter and rain­wa­ter; we help you make sense of how best to use both.

Home (South Africa) - - TESSA’S FAVOURITES - Com­piled by Kim Arendse

Grey wa­ter What is grey wa­ter?

Grey wa­ter is de­fined as used wa­ter from baths, show­ers, hand basins and wash­ing ma­chines. It does not in­clude wa­ter from the toi­let or kitchen.

Do I have to use biodegrad­able clean­ing prod­ucts if I use grey wa­ter to wa­ter my gar­den?

Many peo­ple say they’ve no­ticed an im­prove­ment in their grass and plants since us­ing grey wa­ter in their gar­den. This is be­cause of the grey wa­ter’s al­ka­line na­ture, which most plants love – with the ex­cep­tion of acid-lov­ing plants such as aza­leas, be­go­nias, gar­de­nias, hibis­cus, camel­lias and ferns.

But in the long term, phos­phate and salt buildup from con­stant grey wa­ter use can be toxic and your gar­den will suf­fer as a re­sult.

Aim to use biodegrad­able dish­wash­ing de­ter­gents and wash­ing pow­ders that are phos­phate- and salt-free, and avoid liq­uid fab­ric soft­en­ers as they con­tain chem­i­cals. If you can’t al­ways use these prod­ucts, flush your gar­den with stored rain­wa­ter once a week. Only use mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter if there are no wa­ter re­stric­tions.

For how long can I store grey wa­ter?

Be­cause grey wa­ter con­tains bac­te­ria that don’t need oxy­gen to grow (anaer­o­bic bac­te­ria) it poses a health risk, and will smell if stored for too long. For this rea­son, un­treated grey wa­ter should al­ways be used im­me­di­ately. You can store it for up to 24 hours if you treat it with prod­ucts that im­prove the wa­ter qual­ity, such as Bio-Sys­tems SA’s bi­o­log­i­cal ad­di­tives.

I’ve been us­ing a bucket to carry grey wa­ter out­side and then trans­fer­ring it to a wa­ter­ing can to wa­ter my gar­den. Can you sug­gest a less time-con­sum­ing method?

Al­though your sys­tem of reusing wa­ter works, there are other meth­ods that will re­duce the time you spend going to and fro and lessen your con­tact with grey wa­ter and its po­ten­tial health risks.

You could have the pipes from your bath­room and wash­ing ma­chine (which al­ready has a built-in pump) con­nected to a grey wa­ter sys­tem in your gar­den or di­rectly into a hosepipe.

This method works ei­ther by means of grav­ity (from an up­stairs bath­room, for ex­am­ple) or a wa­ter pump. A siphon pump and tub­ing can be set up to pump bath­wa­ter out of a win­dow and into a tank be­fore it’s used in the gar­den.

Tip Don’t have biodegrad­able laun­dry liq­uid on hand? Then use only the wa­ter from your rinse cy­cle in the gar­den.

Did you know? When it comes to grey wa­ter sys­tems, there’s no ‘one size fits all’. All homes are dif­fer­ent and the dif­fer­ences – such as the lay­out, size and con­tents of the gar­den and the gra­di­ent of the prop­erty – will af­fect the in­stal­la­tion price.

Rain­wa­ter What is rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing?

This refers to the col­lec­tion of wa­ter from sur­faces on which rain falls and sub­se­quently stor­ing it for later use; usu­ally, wa­ter is col­lected from roofs by means of down­pipes and stored in rain­wa­ter tanks.

How long can I keep rain­wa­ter?

Un­treated rain­wa­ter can last for up to six months in a rain­wa­ter tank. It’s best to in­vest in one that blocks out sun­light and UV rays as this is what causes al­gae to form.

Can I drink rain­wa­ter?

Be­cause of in­creased acid lev­els in rain­wa­ter as a re­sult of air pol­lu­tion, as well as pos­si­ble con­tam­i­na­tion from bird drop­pings on roofs, drink­ing un­treated rain­wa­ter isn’t rec­om­mended. Some rain­wa­ter-har­vest­ing sys­tems fil­ter and ster­ilise the wa­ter, or you can boil it con­tin­u­ously for at least a minute – both meth­ods make it safe to drink.

I have steel wa­ter tanks; can I move them un­der­ground?

You could, but con­crete wa­ter tanks work best un­der­ground in terms of main­te­nance and longevity; they’re load-bear­ing so they’re ideal un­der­neath drive­ways and en­ter­tain­ment ar­eas, for ex­am­ple.

W hat size rain­wa­ter tank should I buy?

Big­ger tanks are ideal if you’re us­ing the wa­ter in your gar­den and home. If you’re just us­ing it to col­lect wa­ter for your gar­den, a small tank is ideal. Here’s how to cal­cu­late what size tank is suf­fi­cient for your rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing needs: Roof p/m²: 50 – 100 tank size: 750L – 2 200L Roof p/m²: 200 – 400 tank size: 2 500L – 10 000L

I’ve seen signs up in our neigh­bour­hood that in­di­cate the use of grey wa­ter. Where do I get one and is it a must?

If you’re us­ing grey wa­ter or rain­wa­ter to ir­ri­gate, you are obliged to put up a sign in­di­cat­ing the use of non-drink­ing wa­ter. You can find it on your city’s web­site and it should be printed A4 land­scape. This is not the same sign as those used to in­di­cate the use of well­points and bore­holes.

I’ve re­cently bought large tanks to col­lect and store rain­wa­ter. How do I get it to my gar­den with the least amount of ef­fort?

For a sim­ple ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, you’ll need to use a hose con­nected to the tank and dis­trib­ute drip lines with drip noz­zles in your gar­den, on the sur­face or just un­der the soil, al­low­ing wa­ter to slowly drip into the ground.

More and more house­holds are in­vest­ing in rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing tanks – they’re per­fect for stor­ing wa­ter when there are wa­ter re­stric­tions and for sav­ing costs on mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter.

Go on­line to find out all you need to know about bore­hole wa­ter. Rain­wa­ter tank fil­ter R882.61, sus­tain­able.co.za JoJo Slim­line wa­ter tank (750L) R2 908, jo­jotanks.co.za and builders.co.za

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