Gray Water Irrigation To Conserve Water

Posted on: January 30, 2014

When considering how to help our clients conserve water and best care for their lawns and landscaping, our goal is to provide a range of products and methods that will meet the varying needs and aims of our customers. Grey water irrigation is a method that needs to be taken under serious consideration because it is a resource that we all have at our fingertips and it is virtually cost-free. It involves some time to think through the plan, some permits and a few possible changes in habits. It pays you back handsomely.

Gray water comes from water that would normally be eliminated with the rest of your sewage. However, it is not waste water or “dirty” at that level. Grey water is the water from your washer, your dishwasher, shower, bathroom sink, and laundry tub. While it contains much higher microbial activity than drinkable water, it is safe to water plants and trees with through drip irrigation. It cannot be sprayed into the air where it would come into human or animal contact, but it can be collected into a special system and utilized through your irrigation system.

There are specific methods for collecting this water and there are specific situations which are better suited to this water conservation method than others:

  • Pump-assisted Systems: These are pressurized systems that can channel any amount of water into a tank before it is utilized in a drip irrigation system.
  • Laundry-to-Landscape Systems: These systems utilize gravity to channel 60 gallons or less of water per day directly from clothes washer wastewater to the ground via drip systems.
  • Gravity Flow Systems:  Also utilizing a tank, these systems divert water from a combination of sources to a tank and then to a sub-surface irrigation system.

There are several other things to take into considerations:

In Austin, permits are required and can be applied for through the city. The city will also supply any more specific information needed about installations. Inspections of the system will also need to be conducted when the system is installed and periodically afterward. State regulations on gray water are found in the Texas Health & Safety Code §341.039 and the Texas Water Code §26.0311.

Some people may feel put off by these rules and regulations, however, we feel you should not let this deter you. There are great savings to be had, particularly if you are paying now to irrigate your landscape. This water is free for the small amount of work you are going to put into the project and the changing of a few habits.

The biggest change you may have to make (if you have not done it already) is in changing the types of detergents you use in your laundry. You do this in consideration that what goes down your drain is going to end up on your lawn. With that in mind, your products should be plant-friendly (biocompatible):

  • Oasis
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Vasko
  • Ecos

It is estimated that an average family can conserve forty to ninety gallons of water per day on drip irrigation with a simple laundry-to-landscape system of gray water conservation. Add to this the fact that one is exempted from the water restrictions, and we’d say that’s cause for celebration. Your lawn will be green, your plants will be happy, and you’ll be saving all around.