Please check out this post by Adam Shake at Twighlight Earth. I invite you to watch the short video linked from The goodMix.com. It is an interview with Eric Corey Freed about grey water utilization in green building. You may find it educational and inspiring as I did.
Due to the critical water situation in California this year the governor is now calling upon all households to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20%. The biggest impact of the drought will undoubtedly be in agriculture, and the products and jobs dependent on the federal water project for irrigation. The official announcement came from federal water officials February 20th, zero allocation for farmers. But it’s now becoming incumbent upon every individual to search hard for ways to save even more water in our daily lives. My wife and I have been working on saving water for years, but we recently began getting a lot more serious about it. We have been collecting clean water for plants, but there are more effective ways to go about saving more.
One of the best ways to reduce water usage in the home is to install some sort of “grey water” system. Grey water is water that has been used once already, but is still relatively clean. Grey water can be used for tasks that do not require clean fresh water, like flushing the toilet. There are already “green-tech” companies that manufacture grey water systems. One example I’ve heard of is the Aqus system by Watersaver Technologies. Installing a complete system like this is an easy and convenient way to collect and recycle grey water. This seems expensive however, even though it might be considered a good investment in the future value of a home. Especially expensive for households who are watching their spending in these difficult economic times. I’ve also read about some green bloggers that they intend to build such a system, but that seems like a big hassle, and a potential headache if it leaks, or clogs, or if something breaks. And the pump uses electrical energy.
My wife and I have begun to use our own completely low-tech solution that works just at well, but cost mere pennies in comparison, uses no energy, and requires absolutely no installation. If this seems kind of gross, I apologize, but we have become very serious about saving water. We recycle grey water using a system consisting of two 5-gallon paint buckets and 2 plastic dish pans. These things can be obtained for less than 15 dollars, provided that you don’t already have them lying around in the garage like ours were. We keep one set downstairs in the kitchen, and the other set upstairs in our main bathroom. We have stopped using our downstairs bathroom. We use the dish pans to catch water while washing up, shaving, warming up water for a shower, cleaning dishes, or anything else we would normally have to run water for. We then pour the used grey water into the bucket for storage. The grey water is then poured directly into the toilet bowl to flush it. This does work even though it may seem like a strange way to do things. We have not flushed the toilet using fresh water for weeks. We don’t know exactly how much water this is saving, but I would estimate that 6 to 10 flushes a day for a water saving toilet is still about 24 to 40 gallons a day. For an older toilet make that about 36 to 60 gallons a day. If we can do it, I'm betting anyone can do it.