• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Seemingly silly water question

 
Julia Franke
Posts: 66
Location: Berks County, PA
6
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I feel really stupid asking this question. For years we are taught to save water, and the importance of water.

And I realize that clean water is the building block for everything, and I understand the importance of water conservation in dry areas, such as locations out west, where water is scarce.

But here on the East Coast, we have ample water. Even in drought, our wells (I know there are exceptions, but for the most part) don't go dry. So being the water is a closed system, what is the benefit to watering my garden with grey water VS well water, aside from the savings in electric for running our well pump?

I know this sounds stupid. My husband first brought it up, and my reaction was, "well, duh! It's because..." and I could not come up with a good argument.

So I know I sound ignorant, and I feel ignorant, that is why I would love to be educated. Please help me understand!

Thanks!

 
Charles Tarnard
Posts: 337
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you want to find out that your well has been slowly depleted and that this drought is the one it goes dry on? I live in a climate where the aquifers aren't depleted. It's great. If we continue to treat them as though they are infinite, they wont be.

Areas have dried out. Year round rivers have become seasonal. Just because it hasn't happened in PA doesn't mean it can't, or won't. There is only upside to setting up a proper grey water system.

To be fair, I haven't set up a gray water system at my home yet, but only because I have a list a mile long of things I need to do first, and I hate working on plumbing.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm with Charles on this one, there are many other things I need to do first than fiddle with water projects. That's why I picked this place, instead of living out west in drought land.

None of the climate models have the eastern U.S. drying out to the point that it will be a problem, but they do predict that the dry/wet swings will get bigger. After the 12" of rain we got last July (normal is 4"), how much more extreme can they get?

I think for those of us in regions with ample water, we need to make sure that we can adapt to those swings: build the swales and improve drainage for the overly wet times, yet make sure that we have efficient use for the occasional dry spell.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Pie
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
173
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Julia:

First of all, it's not a stupid question at all.

For folks in wet climate where water scarcity does not seem to be a problem, often water abundance creates issues. A particular problem in the NE is that the sewage systems, designed when large cities were much smaller, are inadequate to handle the task of both moving sewage AND excess stormwater from large rain events. Both sewage and stormwater go into the same drains. Large rain events cause raw sewage to burble up onto streets. NYC and other cities have started instituting some "green infrastructure" projects such as sponge parks to soak up the excess rain to stop the sewer system from being overwhelmed.

But what if you're not in a city? Well, you're still part of a watershed. Keeping greywater in your system longer by reusing it is a good source point use. I don't know if you're on a sewer system or septic - but if on a sewer, that's just that much less waste in an undersized sewer system.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
greywater is hard on septic systems--they cause the system to turn over much too fast. Reducing the greywater will make your septic work better.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1138
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
7
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a city dweller and a plumber, and asking this question has led me to prioritize rainwater capture over grey water re-use.
In Cincinnati we have combined sewage, and the charge for sewage usage is a multiple of ones water usage.
I figure flushing toilets and washing cloths with rainwater, makes the most economic sense.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
William Bronson wrote: I am a city dweller and a plumber, and asking this question has led me to prioritize rainwater capture over grey water re-use.
In Cincinnati we have combined sewage, and the charge for sewage usage is a multiple of ones water usage.
I figure flushing toilets and washing cloths with rainwater, makes the most economic sense.


VERY true! at least from a financial perspective. Lower hanging fruit.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Pie
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
173
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Keeping as much rainwater and greywater on your property is also a good idea in humid/wet climates. "Slow, spread and sink" - the mantra of water harvesting - works equally well in the desert SW where I live as in the wet NE. Large rushes of water cause massive erosion here in the drylands and it overwhelms older "grey" infrastructure in the humid climates.

Here's a picture of one of the proposed (and funded) sponge parks in Brooklyn. The sewer system was completely overwhelmed by hurricane Sandy - so now more effort is being made to slow, sink and spread the stormwater.

 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 709
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The question is not stupid. There are two questions: how is your plumbing and do you get freezing temperatures in winter?
1.) If you are living in a wooden house and the plumbing is under the floor, the greywater system is so easy to make, even I can do it.
2.) If it is so cold in winter that lakes and ponds freeze then I cannot tell you what system you would need otherwise we did it like that:

Outlet, open drain filled with mulch and planted on the sides, pond, overflow with mulch. The whole thing is planted with ornamental gingers and waterplants,
which are doing great after only a few months. And we have tadpoles in the pond (they survived even my daughter bathing). We haven't included the kitchen sink because of the fat.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Grey water has a high mineral load. So in using it we are closing the cycle and re-mineralizing our land.
Re-using the grey water makes us more aware of it and lessen the odds of using toxic chemicals.
While there might be enough water for us now. Our population is GROWING so if we can make our offspring aware of our usage.
Then when/if a water-crisis does occur they will have most of the skills already.
It saves money, by using less water (pumped/well or city-piped), you have to empty your septic tank less often.
You save time, because you dont have to water as often, if any.

You feel better emotionally/mentally when you get to wave your "greenie" flag around and even if it does not do anything.
Who does not want to be surround by friends and family who feel happy about themselves and exudes joy and a sense of purpose.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic