Apart from saving fresh water there are also some ways of reusing and recycling water so as to reduce our requirement. The technology for this could be hi-tech, like a filtration plant, for example but we will concentrate on basic low-cost solutions here.
Grey Water for Flushing
When we bathe, wash our hands, wash our clothes or get the house swabbed, the discharge that goes into the drain is known as ‘grey’ water (as opposed to ‘black’ water from the toilet). Grey water is sometimes soapy and sometimes contains large amounts of dirt. On occasion, it may have a slight smell but, on the whole, it harbours no harmful pathogens.
This grey water requires only a minimal amount of treatment before it is good enough to use again. You may not want to drink it or even bathe with it but, in fact, you don’t have to come in contact with it at all. You can simply reuse it for flushing.
Apart from reducing your water consumption by almost 50%, if you have a septic tank, re-using grey water has an additional side-benefit that the black water no longer gets diluted by the grey water and, as a result, decomposes more efficiently. Even if you don’t want to build a separate treatment section for grey water, the least you can do is put it into your plants.
Reuse Water for Landscaping
The discharge from your kitchen, bath and washing machine is not harmful to plants so, if you have your own garden, you can always release this water almost directly. In case the food you eat is relatively oily, it might be necessary to install a small grease-trap to take first remove grease from the kitchen waste.
I know someone in the city of Pune who, for years, has released grey water from the kitchen and bathrooms of his bungalow straight into a clump of lush Papaya trees. I asked him pointedly about the chemicals in the soap etc. and he just laughed. He is, by the way, an graduate in agriculture so I guess he knows what he’s laughing about.
The explanation is this: chemicals in detergents and cleaning agents are considered bad because they promote the growth of algae. In fresh water, algae deplete the oxygen which, in turn, kills the fish and other fauna there. But these same chemicals – among them phosphates – also act as growth promoters for trees and are, therefore, excellent for landscaping.
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