Recycle your household water

Help the environment-and your water bills-by installing a grey-water system

By Jay Somerset

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There are two types of grey-water: light grey-water, which comes from bathroom sinks and tub showers, laundry and rainwater; and dark grey-water, which comes from kitchen sinks and dishwashers. This dark grey-water contains food waste, grease and (most likely) chemicals from household cleaners. There’s also black-water (water that’s come into contact with human waste.)

In a typical Canadian house’s plumbing, all wastewater is combined at the main sewer and drained away. While this is necessary for black-water, which must be sent through the municipal water treatment system, there’s no reason why grey-water can’t be diverted and filtered back to the home.

The problem is, many municipalities consider any water that has exited a plumbing fixture to be black-water, which is why not all provinces (Quebec, for example) allow grey-water systems, or if they do, the technical requirements may be too much for most homeowners to bother with. Of course, rainwater collection is legal almost everywhere, so even if you can’t install a grey-water system, you can still collect what falls from the sky and, according to Environment Canada, save about 150 litres of drinking water per day, per household.

Recycling something rather than throwing it away. Sounds reasonable to us.

For more on grey-water, visit these sites:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s page on grey-water and rainwater

CBC News’ report on grey-water

City of Windsor, Ontario’s report on grey-water

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