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Gray water use in the landscape ...

Posted by roselee z8 SW Texas (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 15:39

Texas A&M research on gray water use for home irrigation getting positive initial results

I've been using water from my washing machine to water plants for years with no adverse effects. I just wish there was an easy way to use kitchen sink water and shower water although bath water is not yet approved for use in home landscapes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Gardener's Newletter


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

It's good that they actually tested the laundry water, even the one with bleach although the negative results were predictable.

My laundry room is not convenient to the garden which is a problem we need to solve.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

My neighborhood is in the process of building sprinkler system throughout park, median, etc using wastewater from homeowners. That will keep things a bit greener than usual. Lol.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

Roselee, what kind of system do you have set up to collect your washer's gray water? Do you collect in a cistern or other container?


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

Robyn, I don't collect it into container, but run it directly into the garden. Luckily, the washing machine is on the back wall the the garage so it was easy for Bob to drill a hole in the brick and attach a hose. A longer hose that can be disconnected runs further out into the garden. I move the hoses around with every wash load. I have a picture somewhere.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

I also run my laundry water and kitchen sink and dishwasher water outside. Directly into a stand of oriental jasmine (and a big live oak tree). They love it! The greenest part of my yard. I run it though a 10-foot PVC tube, with holes drilled in it to distribute the water. No problems at all since I started doing it five years ago. I do use Arm & Hammer detergent, which I think is somewhat less toxic than others, and I also use only half the amount recommended, which works fine. I use bleach very infrequently. Not as careful with dishwasher soap, though, but I probably use two or three times as much of the former as the latter.

I would put a vegetable garden there, but it's in heavy shade.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

Roselee and Dan - thanks for your comments. I really need to look into this. My washer would directly flow into my vege garden. I don't have a "Bob" LOL, but I do have a trusty handyman and I'm going to seriously look into this. I use organic wash and sink and dishwasher soaps, so there is absolutely no reason I should be sending that gray water anywhere but into my gardens.

Thanks for your feedback.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

We plan to have the downstairs shower drain into the garden this summer. I have a plumber friend who is going to convert it for me. Currently I fill watering cans in the bathtub and use that water for the plants on the deck. It`s a pain but good exercise lol! The water restrictions a few years ago started me really conserving water. The dog bowls, bird bowls all get emptied in plants, a bucket sits under the water when I`m waiting on it to get hot, etc. etc.

Watched one of those home shows and they were building a house that had gray water tanks and reused all the water from the house with the exception of the toliet.
Tally HO!


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

Right now my clothes washer water drains through a grey water line into my front ditch where it does help to water a Texas Cypress tree (and weeds). I had wondered about having that reworked, but I wasn't sure about the bleach. I don't use a ton of it, but I do have 2 kids that play rough & 2 dogs and some things just need to be bleached. How do y'all handle that? Or should I even worry?


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

Chorine bleach leaves water very quickly especially when agitated so I figure it's not going to hurt much in the very few times I use it. Mostly I use Oxi-clean, a non chorine beach containing oxygen, or Biz, which is an enzyme that works wonders for organic stains like grass, food, or blood, on heavily stained clothes. I've messed up clothes by splashes from Chorox too many times so I switched to the others. Incidentally, there is a rust stain remover called 'Whink' that you can buy at hardware stores.

Happy watering!


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

Thanks for this thread. I've always thought about how much water we waste here. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have two outflow lines from the house with a switch? The toilets would always go to the sewer, but everything else would go into a tank or just into the yard. Then when you wanted to wash clothes with bleach or clean the tub with bleach, you could flip the switch and send all the water to the sewer then flip it back when you were done. If you did ALL the household water, you'd probably need to drain it into a septic sort of tank, then you could pump it out to water your yard/plants etc. I'd be afraid that all the household water would be too much to just drain into one spot.

ALSO, don't forget about the condensation from the air conditioners that goes to the sewers. That water is super clean. I think most houses have an overflow arrangement for when the sewer part gets clogged. Why not permanently use the overflow and attach a soaker hose to the line?

How much do you think these modifications would cost? How much more would it be to include them on a new construction? I doubt it would pay for itself currently, but in the future I think water will be more expensive than electricity.

Another thing to think about: All of our sewer water eventually goes back into the lakes (although completely clean). If we all did this, would we have beautiful yards but empty lakes? Would it be worth it? I don't normally advocate spending lots of money on government sponsored studies, but this does need to be studied. What is the BEST way to conserve and re-use our water?


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

The condensation line from my a/c actually goes straight to the outside, where it drains next to my compressor. It's always moist out there in the summer from that line, near the compressor, and I figure I should pipe that water to where it might actually do some good.

By the way, a few years ago, I ended up with a cracked drain line under my a/c, in my house. I put pans down there to collect the water until I replaced the hose. Holy cow! It was *incredible* how much water collected. I had to drain the pans several times a day, and each pan held a gallon or two. I actually did some calculations about outside air infiltration and water content of that air. Came out about right. So we're not talking about a tiny amount of water. Yes, that water is essentially distilled. If I had some sunlight there, I could run a nice little garden right around my a/c compressor.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

I have my sinks, and showers draining into my garden. I have a double sink in the kitchen. One goes to the septic and one goes to the yard with the bathroom and shower.

The only thing I worry about is long term phosphorous contaminating the soil. It can get too much and it can not then be leached out , or so I hear. I am not a scientist. I am lucky if I can keep my P's and N straight.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

I catch the water from ac out of a pvc pipe into a big tub. then water plants. get on average in summer time about40 gals (at least) a day. just put some five gal buckets in my wagon and "drive" it around and water plants and trees.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

We put an old bathtub under the ac unit, and put some pretty sun fish in it. We do have to empty it out fairly often, but like booscootengal I put it in buckets and haul it around to the plants and trees.

We do the same hauling thing with the rain buckets. And also use cheaper ugly fish in them.


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RE: Gray water use in the landscape ...

I take out tubs of dish water to areas around the shop and toss sometimes. I have to keep an eye out for my stainless. They get lost in the cloudy water. I found a spoon in the wandering jew yesterday. God knows how long it has ben there..


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