Greywater Recycling Is Now Simpler but Even More Important
Given the unabated increase in consumerism, the wholesale plundering of natural resources that this has entailed, and the rapidly increasing threat to the planetary environment that has been the result, any materials that can be reused should be, even if it is for alternative purposes. Today, state-operated and private companies around the world are engaged in the collection of all manner of materials, from cardboard packaging, glass bottles, and plastic containers to used engine and cooking oil, for processing and repurposing. Though perhaps not practical as a profitable commercial enterprise, greywater recycling is no less important. In fact, given the recent, unprecedented drought in Cape Town, it seems likely that more South Africans will need to adopt this practice.
The object of this reclamation activity is sometimes referred to as sullage, a term that describes any liquid waste arising from the use of water in homes and offices that is free of faecal or toxic contaminants. In the home, this consists of the discharge from washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, showers, baths, and hand basins, but excludes the so-called black wastewater from toilet bowls. Since the two are discharged into separate pipelines for treatment, it is a relatively simple matter to divert the flow of greywater for recycling purposes.
Allowing for variations in personal hygiene and climatic conditions, the activities described above tend to account for around 60% of the total water consumption by an average household, while about a further 30% is routinely flushed down the toilets. The remaining 10% that is essential for drinking and used in our cooking is now under threat due to the steadily rising drain on the nation’s potable reserves. Clearly the most effective way to tackle this threat is to focus on the most wasteful domestic activities and this will require more households to embrace the importance of greywater recycling. Although small-scale options are also available for the recovery and treatment of black wastewater, in the case of domestic sewage, the task is likely to remain the responsibility of municipal treatment plants.
One of the simplest methods to capture and reuse the wastewater from sinks and the like is to install a branched drain system that diverts the waste to a storage tank, From here, it can then be withdrawn at will and used, for instance, to water lawns or to wash down driveways; both options that could be particularly useful during dry spells when municipalities often enforce usage restrictions. A simple but effective method of greywater recycling is to have a plumber install a pump system to divert the output from hand basins, showers, and baths to flush the toilets rather than consuming potable supplies for this purpose.
While any such effort can only be regarded as beneficial to the environment, homeowners should not overlook the fact that this is also a valuable economic measure. Given that, effectively, it allows a consumer to reuse a commodity that has already been paid for, it is an option that could contribute to a welcome reduction in those constantly escalating, monthly bills from the local municipality.
If one chooses to rely upon this passive type of greywater recycling, it may be necessary to exclude the wastewater from the kitchen sink, as this will often contain substantial amounts of fats and oils. In addition, it might pay to convert to laundry and other cleaning products that have more eco-friendly ingredients. Alternatively, however, there are also more sophisticated systems that incorporate treatments similar to those used by municipalities to reduce such contaminants to more acceptable levels, but on a correspondingly smaller scale.
As one of South Africa’s acknowledged leaders in the field of water treatment, including black and greywater recycling, based in Johannesburg, WaterIcon offers services to residential, commercial, and industrial clients, as well as to municipalities both at home and in a number of other countries across the African continent. In addition to its expertise in such areas as wastewater reuse, conventional treatment plants, and the provision of emergency water supplies, the company stocks a wide range of quality systems, accessories, and disposable items employed in current water treatment technologies and sold throughout the world.
Specialising in turnkey solutions for projects of all sizes, there can be few companies around the globe that are likely to be better qualified to design, to install, and to maintain a greywater recycling system for use in your home or offices.