Posts Tagged ‘water’

Waste water recycling

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Perhaps 3 weeks ago, I ran a bath. It was far too much, and it always feels uneasy draining litres of clean water away like that. So I got the bucket that we keep in the kitchen for our recycling and filled it up with the unwanted bath water. I took the bucket outside, but didn’t know what to do with the water, with my growing season not yet started. I poured it into the only watering can we have, and it filled right up to the top because it wasn’t empty to start with. I got another bucket of water from the bath and just left it outside. I can’t even remember what I did with it in the end, but I expect I poured it onto the grass.

That made me seriously think about grey water recycling. I was already aware of the practice of reusing water, but this is the first time I have seriously considered implementing it in my life, despite frequent fantasies of living in a self-reliant house of my own, complete with a composting toilet and efficient water recycling.

We have a washing machine, and we have a bowl in the kitchen sink; we have a shower, but I really only have baths; and we have a conventional toilet, with no modifications to reduce the amount of water that is used to flush it (I don’t know how many litres of water it uses). Finally, we have a garden that has been kind of neglected over winter (since around August/September, actually), but I will definitely be doing something with it this spring/summer, so will have a need for water/a place to recycle water.

So, I am thinking that I will use gravity to transfer my bath water through a length of hosepipe into buckets outside. I am interested in setting up a basic filtering system for this used water so that it will have less debris in it before going onto the plants. I am thinking this: a bucket with a tap filled with a relatively small layer of gravel with a much bigger layer of fine sand on top. The bucket will have a coarse mesh screen through which the water will go first, and the tap will have a filter to filter anything that managed to get through the sand.

Once my bath water is drained into the buckets, I will tip it into the bucket of sand and gravel, which should be set up in such a way that the water can drain into another bucket. I think I will enjoy this setting up this small greywater recycling project. I am going to do a trial before investing in a dustbin and a dustbin amount of sand to see how it works. I was passing an Oxfam shop a few days ago and noticed that they now sell the buckets that one can buy as an Oxfam Unwrapped gift. They cost £6.99, I believe, and they have a tap, so one of those will be ideal.

If it is successful, I will definitely filter all of my bath water during the growing season when I know that I will be watering the plants later in the day; I am aware that greywater should not be stored. I am going to try to be more aware of the water I am wasting, in addition to reusing the water that I do need to use, too, because it is too easy to measure how much we are recycling and completely forget that it might be better to not use the resource in the first place.

I know that any used water that can’t be reused in the garden could be used to flush the toilet, but I don’t think this is going to be the easiest thing to implement. Less easy than working out a setup for the filtering, yes, because not everybody who uses the toilet will be bothered with using a bucket to flush the toilet, and visitors might think we are strange. Also, using a bucket to flush the toilet isn’t going to be anywhere near as fun as watching the once grey water filter through the sand.

If the water I use to have a bath is used twice, that has got to be a less bad thing than being used only only once. I invite comments.