Saving water the grey way

2011-03-28 00:00

HAVE you ever watched the water draining from the bath and wondered about what it represents: money and precious water resources going, literally, “down the drain”? Using technology available in KwaZulu-Natal, this doesn’t have to be the case as this “grey water” can be recycled (see below).

By installing a grey-water system, families and organisations can recycle water from washing and bathing for use in the garden or toilets. “Doing this means not only saving money, but also removing this water from the sewage treatment streams, thus alleviating pressure on waste water works and allowing them to treat just ‘black water’ or waste water from toilet systems,” said Guy Jubber of Clevergreen Environmental Systems in Durban, a franchise of Water Rhapsody water conservation systems. Water Rhapsody systems were developed in Cape Town and have won a World Wildlife Fund Green Trust award for product innovation in water conservation.

“The first rule of grey water is that you may not store it unless the storage tank is fitted with a purification system to clean the water. This means the first decision property owners need to make is what they want to do with grey water: irrigate lawns and gardens or use it to flush toilets, or both. If it’s only for the garden, water is first piped from the bathroom and laundry outlet pipes into an underground tank. The system switches on automatically and pumps the water from there as soon as about 35 ℓ is accumulated. Clevergreen supplies all this piping as well as irrigation pipes to a hose and sprinkler system in the garden, plus the pump. The pump contains a filter device consisting of two nylon devices that never need to be replaced. An overflow is also provided which is connected to the sewer system, in case of overflows.” Grey water systems can also be combined with rainwater systems.

To use grey water for toilet cisterns requires a system to digest the food content of the water and then filter it. Storage tanks contain a flocculent which prepares the water for use in cisterns by removing the odour and any sediment. Once the water is clarified in this way, it is ready for reuse in conventional cisterns to flush toilets.

Clevergreen has installed grey water systems for private homes throughout the province, including Pietermaritzburg, Durban, and the north coast. It can also install larger systems for commercial or industrial plants and has completed installations for Wits University in Johannesburg, the Old Mutual buildings in Pinelands, Cape Town, and the University of Cape Town.


GREY water is the waste water generated by showers, basins, baths and laundry. It does not include toilet waste water or kitchen waste water, eg water from dishwashers or washing up by hand. Grey water can be captured and used to water gardens or fill cisterns to flush toilets. When harvesting grey water, it is important to use low or phosphate-free washing powders for laundry and not to use fabric softeners or sodium hypochlorite cleaning solutions, eg Jik to avoid harm to plants or animals. Clevergreen recommends Ecosoft washing powder as an environmentally friendly option because it is phosphate-free. Waste water from dishwashers must go into sewers because dishwashing detergent is very abrasive. Grey water produces a faint odour while it’s being dispersed onto a garden, but the odour disappears quickly. The cost of a grey water recycling system depends on the requirements of the installation, but vary between R7 800 and R11 800. The average time it takes for the cost of a domestic system to be amortised is three to five years.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.