15.3 C

The grey water debate


The terminology ‘grey water’ means water from washing machines, sinks, showers and bathtubs.  Should you use it? The best advice I can offer with reference to using grey water is to check with your local council and the state environmental health department.

Councils once wouldn’t even consider the idea of water storage tanks as they were considered a health hazard. What has changed?  

Firstly, the drought conditions which are prevailing throughout the state. Some areas of the Hunter aren’t affected, but certainly water storage is dropping and then there is the high cost of water rates.

Let’s look at grey water. During an ongoing drought some years ago, I advocated washing machines being pumped onto lawns. Use an eco- friendly detergent which should be low in phosphorous and salt and should have a neutral pH.  Use grey water only during long periods of dry weather. Never use any water in which clothing containing contaminants have been washed. Wash your hands thoroughly after digging in soil that had been irrigated with grey water.

Grey water shouldn’t be used on vegetables or fruit trees; never let children play in soil that has been wet with grey water.

Untreated grey water, because it comes from laundries and bathrooms, is contaminated with bacteria found in fats, oils, greases, food particles, hair, mucous, traces of urine and faecal matter.

There are obvious risks to health and the environment attached to the use of grey water. Although it is legal throughout Australia to use grey water, check with your council regarding its requirements.

My concerns over long-term use of grey water in the garden start with detergent build up in the soil.  How about earthworms, will they like a daily bath in grey water?

This week

  • Deadhead roses damaged by windy weather – this will encourage new blooms.  A handful of Sudden Impact will encourage new buds.
  • Keep passionfruit well mulched to avoid fruit drop.
  • Watch for powdery mildew on vegetables and roses. Spray with copper oxychloride.

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