Tuesday, June 30, 2009

our greywater project

As conscientious as we try to be about recycling, composting, buying local, and being enviro-friendly, I must admit that I have a major vice: my water usage. I use a lot of water. I'm not proud of it. Au contraire, I'm often ashamed at the length of my hot showers or the inefficient way I wash dishes. I think I take my water for granted, because it's so plentiful and cheap here in Vermont. Plus I love how it feels on my skin!

On top of that, we have to run a dehumidifier nonstop in the basement or else things start to get moldy. The machine, which is energy star rated, by the way, produces between 1 and 2 gallons of water a day during the summer months. 1 to 2 gallons every day! Out of thin air! Until now, we've been dumping that perfectly good water down the drain. But I'm trying to change my way of thinking.

The other day Colin suggested that we collect the water and use it to water our plants and garden. The same thing had been on my mind too, since I've been hearing lots of news reports lately about how people are recycling their greywater (washwater from showers and laundry) in creative ways. We're also enamoured by the neat little waste water recycling system at the Vermont Welcome Center in Sharon, Vermont.

I did a little research on some online discussion forums to see what other people do. Some think the water is toxic, but I don't believe it (it's not even grey!). Others say they've been doing it for years and the plants thrive. Laura from work suggested contacting the UVM extension office just to be sure, which I plan to do, especially if I want to use the water on my edible garden. But in the meantime, I've bought a nice little watering can and every time the dehumidifer needs emptying, we empty the water into the watering can. It's enough to drench our little garden without ever turning on the hose!


Kacey said...

Please post what you find out from UVM. This is a fabulous idea! I am very curious to learn if it is safe to use on the gardens.

Emma and Kevin Kouri said...

Soe, what a great idea. I love the idea and the concept.

I think you will find what you are doing and the true definition of "greywater" a little different. Grey Water can be attached to a number of different types of recycled water. In my field of work which uses a lot of water, grey water is what is leftover after washing down the milk house, parlor and milking equipment. So what was once Potable water is now soiled with soap residue and manure contamination. It is then held in a storage tank to be later used to wash down holding areas and alley ways to rinse the area free of manure. It is truly grey water in context of color but adequate enough to wash down areas that do not require fresh water.
K Dogg

Unknown said...

Another great idea, especially this summer, is to put a (covered) rain butt under your down~spout from the gutter...don't do it, though, if it doesn't have a cover with a hole for the downspout...it's the saddest thing to find a little bird or bumble bee, moth or beetle who have met their untimely demise all for the sake of a barrel of water...If you're using earthfriendly products I don't think the 'grey' water would be toxic, but I'll be curious to know. LOVE that red watering can!!!

Unknown said...

Way to get resourceful! What you're doing on the small scale has huge potential to solve our national water shortage. Greywater systems are the future and can reduce our water usage by a huge amount. Check out www.flotender.com

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