Grey Water Recycling Basics

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Despite the fact that our planet is covered with the stuff, global scarcity of clean drinking water is a reality we must face.

With this in mind, what are some of the technologies that we can look to in order to help us make better use of the water we’re consuming, and in many cases, the water we’re wasting? Well, one area that is emerging is grey water recycling, once just an idea that existed on the fringes, and now in full use in many of the more arid regions of the world.

To touch on this fascinating area of green technology is writer, gardener, and grey water expert Jim Duer is here to explain the basics of grey water recycling …


The value of grey water has not yet been recognized by residents in the United States.  In fact most residents cannot define the word greywater.

The scarcity and cost of clean drinking water is changing this trend in the states however. Did you know that the earth is covered by 75% water yet only 3% is clean and ready for use?  Some cities in the US are offering information as well as tax incentives to residents willing to invest in water recycling systems. For people in other countries such as Australia, all new homes are equipped with greywater recycling equipment. When you think about it, the Southern United States is similar in climate to Australia and other arid regions of the world.

What is grey water, and how can we use it?

Grey water is waste water that has been produced by showering, bathing, hand washing, and cloths washing. It is not to be confused with black water.  Black water is the water produced from toilet flushing and the kitchen sink. The Black water must be treated at a sewage treatment plant; grey water can be cleaned and processed in your home.  The plumbing drain system needs only minor adjustments to be adapted for grey water recycling. The amount of water used for showering in the average home equals the amount of water needed to flush the toilets.

Another question that requires looking into is, “why do we use clean drinking water to flush our toilets, water our lawns, or wash cars? Grey water recycling is the answer to this question. That may mean no more drinking from the hose but the benefits outweigh the burden.

Grey water environmental benefits

Capturing, cleaning, and reusing water from showering, hand washing and cloths washing will decrease daily water use significantly. Grey water recycling makes sense for the environment as well as the checkbook.

Benefits to the environment:

  • Toilet water and shower water nearly match on the average home.
  • Water used for toilet flushing does not need to be drinking quality.
  • Water used for irrigation does not need to be drinking quality, in fact plants like grey water better than chlorinated water.
  • Public water systems are facing higher costs for chemicals.
  • The energy needed for water treatment is less due to less consumption.

Source: source water protection via Katie on Pinterest

Cost of grey water recycling technology

With any environmental benefit there is a cost.  Fortunately governments are responding the need for recycling of water.  There are tax incentives offered with many more on the way as water becomes scarcer and more expensive to process.  Comparing similar household equipment’s initial investment reveals water recycling being a better investment than an On-Demand water heater.

The On-Demand water heater is good for the environment yet according to my calculations, has a payoff of ten to twelve years. The grey water recycling system I have in mind has a payoff of between six and eight years depending on where you live.  Interestingly if you live in Santa Fe, New Mexico the payoff could be as little as four years for the average household.

Grey water technology options for your home

The cost of recycling grey water and the investment payoff is much more attractive than most people think. There are also significant benefits to the environment and the community. If you are building a new home you should take into consideration the cost of water and how you can recycle what you use.

If your existing home offers access to drain lines please consider a greywater recycling system.  The Aqua Loop system, sold exclusively by is the most inexpensive, easy to use, and highest quality water treatment system on the market.


Thanks, Jim!




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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.