Greywater Recycling PDF Print


In an effort to find new and innovative ways to conserve water in residential building, MasterCraft has been looking into a new water recycling strategy.  This particular strategy involves repurposing water that has been used in sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, tubs, and showers to be used in irrigation or as part of a composting toilet system.  The water produced in sinks, tubs, showers, and dishwashers is known as greywater, meaning that its contamination level is between fresh water (whitewater) and water contaminated with human waste (blackwater).  Greywater must be used quickly because the bacteria accumulated during household use will render the water unsafe for repurposing after 24 hours.  Greywater is an abundant source of water for irrigation and can help reduce septic use since it comprises 50-80% of a house’s wastewater. ( Using greywater can reduce the amount of freshwater needed to supply a home and reduces the amount of waste entering septic and sewage systems. It should also be noted that not all greywater is equally contaminated, wastewater that contains food particles or has been used to clean especially dirty laundry are still classified as blackwater and should be disposed of normally.


Determining Feasibility

A greywater recycling system is not ideal for every home and certain criteria must be met in order to properly install and maintain the operation.  Climate and soil are two major factors in determining whether or not using greywater is actually a viable alternative.  The soil surrounding a home must have the right level of permeability, meaning the soil cannot be too sandy or have too much clay.  If the water isn’t filtered thoroughly or if the soil is too dense for the water to fully filter through the soil the greywater will actually have a negative effect on the area being irrigated.  If the system is used in a cold climate or a wet climate it may not be as effective since irrigation is not needed as often and could leave the operator with an excess of greywater in storage.

If the homeowner lives in an area where such a system is heavily regulated with permits and restrictions, the complexity of the system might diminish any cost saving potential. In this case a traditional plumbing system that utilizes water efficient fixtures and conscientious users might be just as effective.  However, if none of these obstacles hinder the homeowner’s desire to conserve water then such a system can be ideal.


What does the system consist of?

A basic greywater system utilizes the source of the greywater (i.e. tubs, sinks, washing machines), collection plumbing to move the separated greywater to a surge tank, a filter and a pump for said collection tank, and distribution plumbing to move the water to different locations.  (Note: this process is far more complex if the greywater is used to replace freshwater in the disposal of human waste because it will be tied into the composting toilet system.) Such a system can be installed using traditional plumbing and irrigation techniques, and the greywater should never come in contact with humans before it is properly filtered.



Benefits to Recycling Greywater

In the summertime the majority of household freshwater consumption is actually spent on irrigation of lawns and landscaping.  Utilizing a greywater system will cut down on water expenditure and conserve freshwater for more important tasks.  Since the majority of a household’s wastewater is greywater, finding an alternative use for it will help maintain wastewater systems for a longer period of time and will put less strain on the overall water system.  When used in conjunction with a composting toilet such a system is an excellent alternative when developing in an area that will not support a traditional septic system.  Most importantly, utilizing this system reduces the users impact on the environment and ensures that one of our most important resources is used responsibly.





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