Learn about the definitions of fresh water, clear water, grey water and black water. How should each water category be used? Can reusing this water save us money?
Pure Water - Precious fresh water that is wasted to flush toilets, provide showers, clean laundry and cars, and to water gardens. This is water we really should reserve for drinking, cooking and providing to our pets. Recall that in some countries, women have to walk for miles each day just to bring safe drinking/cooking water home for their families.
Clear Water - Water with no solids in it. Water we waste while waiting for showers or sink faucets to heat up, water used to boil pasta, eggs or potatoes, water used to rinse clean veggies, etc. This form of water should be recaptured right in the sink or tub, right into a bin you can carry elsewhere. Let this water flow into containers and use to: flush toilets, water houseplants, use in the garden, fill the first load of laundry (the soapy cycle) and for any kind of cleaning purpose.
Grey Water - Water used in all applications that are NOT involved with feces. This includes used sink water, used laundry water, used bath/shower water and water from washing cars or animals. This water can contain soap, skin flakes, hair, dirt, food particles, and other items that can be in small solid form or carried in suspension. This water should be returned to the soil into the form of a mulch basin, constructed wetland area, or to even use directly on shade trees, landscaping, fruit and nut trees, into the compost bin, or for garden uses that are applied only to non-edible root systems.
Black Water - This is used water from toilets, or used cleaning water from dirty diapers. Feces can absolutely be composted, but this task needs to be completely researched before embarking on to prevent biological contamination. This is really the only water that should ever go to the city or your septic tank for proper filtration and cleaning.
If you are on city water, your household is charged a certain fee each month for the privilege of using the system. If you have a septic tank, you are charged regularly for the fee of emptying and cleaning your tanks. Using less water in the first place, and diverting the water that actually get used just makes frugal sense. Conservation of fresh and clear water is a great start!
Planning a simple grey water system (start with a hose running out from your laundry machine and utility sink) can also save you hundreds of gallons monthly on landscape and garden watering.
There are also rainwater systems that can save hundreds of dollars a year, simply by gathering up the free rain that falls naturally off your roof. Rainwater is mostly particulate-free (unless you live in an acid rain zone), usually only containing whatever soil or dust has collected on your roof between rains. This is also great water for many household and garden uses.
Feel free to discuss this and get ideas for your home in the Frugal Living Forum (link is below).
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