Before we continue our greywater series, we have a few precautions to lay down. The dangers of greywater have been exaggerated in the past and it’s important to remember that nobody in the US has ever gotten sick from exposure to greywater. The plumbing codes in this country are overly cautious in their restrictions on greywater use, as the Man, quite simply, wants you to throw perfectly good water down the sewer. On the other hand, a lot of hippie types have been a little too loose with greywater and nasty bugs like e-coli, pictured on the right, remind us we need to be careful. So here are SurviveLA’s rules to follow when using greywater:
- Do not apply greywater to crops that you will eat raw, such as strawberries, carrots or lettuce. Using greywater on any vegetables is somewhat dodgy in general for heath reasons, but greywater is fine for edible plants such as fruit trees where the crop is far from the ground and the risk of direct contamination by contact with contaminated water is low.
- Do not apply greywater to lawns (lawns are evil anyways) or to the foliage of any plant as this can cause a microorganism growth party. Remember that greywater is treated by moving through soil.
- Greywater tends to be alkaline, so avoid using greywater on acid loving plants such as citrus, ferns and other forest plants (pretty much anything that grows in the shade).
- Occasionally irrigate your plants with fresh water to prevent the buildup of salts from soaps and detergents.
- Do not distribute greywater with a sprinkler as you don’t want the potential bad stuff becoming airborne.
- Do not use the water from your washing machine if you are washing diapers (gross!).
- Do not allow greywater to stand as it will quickly become the perfect habitat for anaerobic bacteria which will quickly turn it into a stinky, mosquito and fly infested pool of blackwater. Plan a system that will, ideally, use your greywater immediately.
- Use only detergents and soaps designed for greywater systems such as Oasis Biocompatible Cleaning Products.