Grey water - great in drought

2016-11-30 06:00
Grey water also contains nutrients derived from the residues and soaps in the water, which feed and nourish the soil to produce lush plants. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Grey water also contains nutrients derived from the residues and soaps in the water, which feed and nourish the soil to produce lush plants. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

GREY water is the recycling of bath, shower, hand basin and laundry water, which can then be used to irrigate your garden.

This is especially relevant for South Africans as they have to contend with low rainfall, water shortages and water restrictions. By reusing bath and laundry water, homeowners can keep their gardens looking healthy — even in times of drought — without spending an extra cent on their water bill.

Plus, grey water also contains nutrients derived from the residues and soaps in the water, which feed and nourish the soil to produce lush plants.

However, do not use water waste from the kitchen sink as this contains fat content that will damage your garden.

Grey water systems

A grey water system can be as simple as using a bucket to carry the waste water outside, or as complicated as having the grey water piped directly outside using a tank and pump.

According to Water Wise, a simple bucket system can be used to transport the grey water by hand from the bathroom to garden. It is the cheapest system, but is inconvenient and increases the possibility of contact and contamination between the grey water and people carrying the bucket.

Homeowners can also make one themselves by connecting a pipe from the outlet of their bathroom to a hose pipe.

Alternatively, homeowners can invest in a system that connects the grey water to the outlet pipes of the bathroom where the grey water will be collected or stored in a tank. The water will run through a hair and lint filter first before it is pumped out through irrigation pipes to the garden.

With any grey water system, it is important that you use “garden-friendly” products and detergents that do not contain any salts, boron or bleach.

If you intend on using the water to feed a vegetable garden, it is important that the system has a filter.

How much does a grey water system cost?

According to Erika Theron from Rainwater Harvesting, a small, entry-level system that works instantly (no storage) could cost around R13 000 (fully installed), while a system that offers European bathing filtration standards could cost R110 000 or more. She says in between these there are different options that homeowners can choose from.

Grey water tolerant plants

In general, tough drought-tolerant plants will do best with grey water irrigation watering.

Generally, grey water is alkaline, so avoid using it on plants like azaleas, begonias, gardenias, hibiscus, camellias and ferns, fynbos and proteas.

Plants that flourish from grey water include olives, rosemary, bougainvillea, lavender, Cape honeysuckle, Italian cypress, bearded iris and petunias.

To help these plants thrive, occasionally flush the plants with a bit of rainwater or tap water to remove the residue from the grey water.

Grey water reuse guidelines

Homeowners who’d like to use grey water in their gardens should be aware of the hygiene factors. Because grey water is not fresh, homeowners should apply the following:

• Use the grey water within 24 hours. Storing the water any longer will result in a bad odour.

• Minimise contact with grey water.

• Use non-toxic cleaning agents and products where possible.

• Do not allow your grey water to pool on the surface of the soil. Standing water will provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

• Do not use water from the kitchen or toilet.

• Do not use laundry water that has been used to wash nappies.

• Do not allow children or pets to drink or play in grey water.

• Do not let it run into the swimming pool.

• Do not use grey water if a family member or someone on the property has an infectious illness.

— Property24.

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.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

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.