Did you know that harvesting rainwater and reusing greywater can save over 50% of the average American family’s household water usage? This is an astounding figure when we consider how vital water is to our planet’s health and well-being. We can cut our water usage in half by designing smart water systems, and let the planet keep more clean water to maintain its ecosystems.
Household wastewater is classified into two groups: (1) Greywater refers to the wastewater from your shower, laundry machines, and bathroom sinks. It contains bacteria, fiber particles, and dead skin cells, which is very nourishing for your garden plants, and doesn’t pose a huge health risk. (2) Blackwater refers to the wastewater from your toilet and kitchen sink, because it is loaded with feces and grease. It can contain animal parasites and excess nitrogen that will pollute the environment.
Greywater can be fed directly to your garden plants, whereas blackwater needs deeper filtration to be safe for returning to the ecosystem.
In permaculture, we use rainwater catchment systems to harvest rainwater. After all, rainwater falls freely from the sky, as part of the natural water cycle. Using rainwater helps significantly reduce the amount of water we take from ancient reservoirs both below and above the ground surface.
Harvesting rainwater and using greywater for your plants essentially harnesses the services gifted by the natural water cycle. Instead of the soil soaking up the rainwater, you are soaking up the rainwater. And in the end, you’re giving that water back to your plants in the soil anyway, returning it to the natural water cycle.
Harvesting rainwater can fulfill one-third of your household water needs each year. Add that to a greywater system that reuses your household water to water your garden and lawn, and you’ve basically met close to two-thirds of your household water needs. How’s that for saving money on water?