Making the most of your water

Making the most of your water
Water is the world’s most precious commodity, therefore it just makes a whole lot of sense to harvest rainwater and recycle our grey (used) water as much as possible.

Whether we live in a rural area or a house in the city we can all do our bit for the environment and reduce our water usage and costs.

Harvesting rainwater simply means the collection and storage of rainwater for future use. The rain flows down your roof and into your gutters which are connected by pipes to a storage tank. Many rural areas rely entirely on rainwater for their personal use as well as their livelihood, therefore they know the importance of harvesting rain water. For those of us who live in towns and cities we can be liberal with our water consumption and not give much thought to how much we use and how often we waste water. Every time we turn on a tap that provides town water we are reducing the amount of water in our dams.

By harvesting storm water we can also reduce the over flow on local storm water systems during heavy downpours. We tend to think of stored water being used predominantly in the garden, however use inside the home is becoming more and more popular. With the addition of devices such as gutter guards, filters and leaf eaters as well as first flush devices to the storage system the water becomes a much more usable commodity for washing, drinking and toilet flushing.

There are numerous types of rainwater storage tanks on the market including fire resistant, UV resistant and laminated tanks that provide corrosion resistance. Have a Rainwater tank specialist do a site inspection to help determine the right tank for your needs, where it is best placed and advise on installation methods including the services of a plumber and electrician where required.

Greywater comes mainly from bathroom and laundry sinks, showers and washing machines. The water from our kitchen sinks and dishwashers has higher levels of fats, organic materials and chemicals and therefore is referred to as dark greywater, while toilet water is known as blackwater. Various greywater treatment systems have the capability to collect and treat the water. Depending on the system and the purpose for which you intend the water to be used, they can filtrate such items as hair and lint, remove unwanted chemicals and disinfect the water either by UV light or chlorination.

Recycled greywater is ideal for the garden but can also be used for washing and for the toilets. Again there are a number of systems available. Each will vary depending on the intended use of the water. For example a simple diversion via a hose for hand held watering will cost very little. If you want a device to be connected to an irrigation system a filter will be required to prevent the irrigation pipes from clogging with things such as hair. It is important to note that you should not use untreated greywater on any plants or vegetables that will be eaten raw. In addition you may require a surge tank that will store overflow to prevent flooding. Depending on the lay of your land and gravity you may need a pump.

A greywater treatment system is ideal in rural and drought affected regions, particularly where there is no town water and you are totally reliant on rainwater. With a treatment system professionally plumbed into your toilet or washing machine you can have your used water treated and recycled for further use. This will preserve precious rainwater for drinking, cooking and showering. Be sure to research the do’s and don’ts of greywater use. There are health and safety guidelines for the use and storage of greywater and check with your local council to see if there are specific regulations in your area. Although not extreme, the set up cost of a rainwater harvesting system or a greywater treatment system may initially be more than you expected in the long run you not only helping the environment but you will also save money by keeping your water consumption bills down.

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