Many municipalities, water or health authorities don’t permit the installation of greywater systems in residential settings. The fear of uncontrolled, untreated water potentially getting into the wrong hands, (or mouths) as the case may be, seems to cripple their ability to think rationally about the problems facing water suppliers and national water management bodies.

Unless we start reusing water at the local/small scale level there will be a crisis of unimaginable proportions.

235314611_c00661f3af_m I’m not a doomsday prophet or anything like that, but encouraging sustainable practices for production of local food and areas of amenity and necessity such as trees and forests for shade seems a simple task.

Just to ensure that everyone’s on the same page with the greywater thing, here’s a definition:

greywater: Definition and Much More from

Greywater is non-industrial wastewater generated from domestic processes such as washing dishes, laundry and bathing. Greywater comprises 50-80% of residential wastewater. Greywater is distinct from blackwater in the amount and composition of its chemical and biological contaminants (from feces or toxic chemicals).

However, with the current legislation in most areas crippling the innovation of technologies, or even simple tried and true methods of treating and reusing greywater, we as a society are pumping millions of gallons of potable “Grade A” water onto our gardens. Think about it, the worms in our garden have cleaner water than people in most third world countries!

The crisis will come as reservoirs dry up, (already happening around the world), potable water systems age or appear to be under sized to meet the ever growing demands of consumers for water, (already happening), or quality issues will become critical, (already happening).


What can we do to overcome the limitations imposed on us by well meaning officials? Do some research, it’s not hard to install a relatively robust greywater treatment system in your backyard, in fact the hardest part may be rerouting the pipes inside your house to discharge to your system, rather than the city’s sewers. I’m going to do some research on the feasibility of a greywater system in cold climates, and will possibly present some techniques and suggestions here for your information. I’d love to hear from anyone who has a successful system running at their house or business too!

Find more on greywater books – Click Here.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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