Intro to Graywater Systems

Harnessing the Power of Graywater

The great thing about DIY energy projects is that no matter how long the process, the finished product yields such great results that you just want to keep finding more ways to save on your resources. It’s not surprising to see a lot of self-made solar, wind and hydro enthusiasts also look at other ways to maximize their eco efficiency and become self-reliant, further cutting ties with corporations who they rely on for basic essentials. It’s easy to find a way to save on the world’s most precious resource – whether it’s through how you decide to pump your water system or even how you access and recycle the water itself. In recent years, innovative technologies have been developed to utilize what is known as graywater systems, an effective way to reuse your water which is taking off among private homeowners and businesses alike.

The Hidden Water Cycle

Graywater might sound slightly murky, but it’s fairly straightforward – the wastewater (graywater) used from simple activities like showering and laundry is sent to a waste filtration facility to be processed and separated from blackwater (water that contains contaminants like fecal matter) and deposited – usually in rivers and oceans. In a graywater system, this water is instead either diverted in a separate pipeline or tank to be used within a short span of time, and can replace whitewater (pure drinking water) for usage in lawn sprinklers and various other needs.

Implementing an efficient graywater system means taking an even further conscientious approach to reducing the amount of water wasted, as well as a greater sense of independence when the money saved starts adding up – creating your own water cycle in the process. The benefits are unparalleled, resulting in a reduction of water source usage from rivers and aquifers, reduction of energy used and chemical contamination from filtration and septic plants, increased nutrients beneficial to topsoil, plant growth, and a full replenishing of the ecosystem, as well as allowing for ground and surface water regeneration and a higher quality of water overall. The financial savings for regions adopting graywater systems means that more investments can be put towards environmental programs. With 8 million graywater systems in the US, it’s gathering momentum, particularly in the South West where access to fresh water is limited in relation to other regions.

Putting it Together

Drafting up a graywater plan for the average home is easily done – it’s all about choosing which system will be most beneficial for your needs or which one is the most cost-effective to produce – some projects can range into the thousands, if their level of complexity is high – though they promise to return their worth in savings. Ranging from rainwater storage and run-offs to filters to heating whitewater (graywater heat recovery/hot water heat recycling) finding instructions online is simple and you can improvise by drafting up your own plan. A wealth of resources can help tackle the task of designing the most efficient blueprint, although most are fairly standard. Basic requirements include a cleaning tank, control mechanism (which will dictate how long the water is stored before it becomes unusable via settling tanks or flushing out). Water which is stored for a long period of time can grow harmful levels of bacteria, and certain states will also have regulations in place specifying what kind of system is allowed.

Where to Look

Fieldlines – the OtherPower discussion board – holds a wealth of information and first person accounts regarding graywater systems, covering topics such as how to claim back 60% of energy lost from hot water along with detailed diagrams and explanations as to how it works and the concerns which might be raised during the installation process and afterwards. Sustainable Sources also offers in-depth explanations on graywater irrigation and other topics which can be applied on both the corporate and domestic level.

With more people adopting this new and exciting method of saving money and water, not only will the eco-friendly home benefit immeasurably but the overall impact on the environment will increase as well. Along with solar, wind, and hydro energy, it’s the next logical step in preserving and protecting our resources and an effective alternative in climates where freshwater is both expensive and scarce.