The United States’ drinking water standards are high. Under normal circumstances, the water is clean, safe, tastes ok and is used for so many different things. The same water that we drink is used to flush the toilet, water the plants and wash the car. Does a toilet require potable water for flushing? No, absolutely not. Could the runoff water from the dishes and shower be reused for other purposes? Yes, definitely.
Think of it this way: three levels of water quality exist – white, grey and black. White water is that which we drink, potable water. It’s been filtered and disinfected specifically for us to safely consume. Grey water is the wastewater that flows from a home’s shower, bathroom sink, washing machine and/or bathtub. This water is then purposed for reuse, typically in the form of landscape irrigation. Black water is flushed toilet water, containing materials unsafe for reuse, unless properly treated. Water from the garbage disposal, dishwasher and kitchen sink is usually referred to as black water as well, because of high levels of organic waste.
On average, 280 gallons of water goes down the drain per household, per day and more than half of that could be reclaimed as grey water. Reasons to reuse water include sustainability, making your home more green, reducing your water bill and reducing your water footprint. Water reclamation can simply be done by collecting shower water with a bucket and reusing where applicable. Other specific tools are available to do the trick, for example hooking up a bathroom sink to a machine that funnels the grey water to the toilet.
Rainwater harvesting is another way to conserve water. This method involves collecting and storing rainwater, and reusing it for irrigation or for consumption.
In our next blog post, we will be discussing specific examples of water conservation and grey water application, and what it can do for the home and the environment. In the meantime, do you reclaim water or harvest rainwater? If so, please tell us about it. Would you consider it if you don’t do one or both of these, and for what uses?