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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flush High Water Bills with Greywater!

Noting a recent surge in wastewater-related posts, an eager reader mentions greywater for conservation. He notes that long-time Madison resident and inventor Paul Redfield plumbed in a system that piped his laundry and shower water into his toilet tanks. I've heard others mention how silly it is that we Americans use gallons of drinkable water to flush away a cup of urine or a little bit of poo. My correspondent wonders how many millions of gallons of water we might save by repurposing our greywater.

Ah! A numbers question!

A little Googling takes me to this Miller-McClune article about California's relaxation of its greywater rules last summer. California officials estimate a family of four recycling just its laundry greywater can save 22,000 gallons of water per year.

Let's see... family of four... Madison has about 6500 people... carry the two... almost 36 million gallons of water per year, just from recycling laundry greywater. 36 million gallons: that's over a month's worth of the water the Lewis and Clark water pipeline is supposed to bring our fair city after 2019.

Or, for my dry little family of three, 22,000 gallons equals seven months of household water consumption. Yowza!

Now don't just go busting through your drywall and looping new pipes through your walls; greywater takes a little thought. And don't go running that shower drain straight out to your garden: the state has rules on that.

But if you plumbers out there are looking for a little recession business, greywater systems might be the ticket. Tell your customers you can save them money: Go green, go grey!


  1. I read with interest your article and wanted you to know about a patented, UPC (universal Plumbing code approved) and IAPMO approved product that is available for residential greywater reuse. Water Legacy's WL55, a Colorado manufactured product, can reduce your in home usage of water up to 30%. This product is specifically designed for new home construction but can be retrofitted if the home allows. Visit www.waterlegacy for more information.

  2. Chris:
    This is a dead link

    Tim Higgins

  3. The link is actually www.waterlegacy.com and they sell their home system WL55 for around $3000. Imagine if a group of ambitious Madison residents created a new business, designed a series of grey water systems for home and apartment buildings and sold them statewide, then nationwide, then internationally, just like Gehl skidloaders...hint, hint. The market is unlimited and a grey water system can be designed to sell for around $1000, or at least much less than $3000. A little LAIC economic development seed money, some state economic development funds and local capital could create a formidable local industry and turn grey into green.

  4. For the neighborhood Assoc. we would like to hold demo's on creating rain barrels. Actually find a way to do this as a make 'n take, so we provide the materials, get them so far and all they have to do is install it. I have already lightly discussed this with the county extension office. We'll find out if this is a go, after our big January meeting.

    I'm thinking the word "filtered" should be added to the term Greywater. When one catches this concept in passing, thoughts lead to grey water sitting in the toilet creating a ring and never being clean again. Running whites through the laundry and coming out dingy.

    I didn't check the link but I have been mulling around a concept. Plants are used to "polish" greywater. Generally the water is diverted outside for this and then back into the house. Plants and water outside doesn't jive with winter around here. The idea would be to insulate the screened in porches of the foursquare or arts and crafts homes and turn them into mini-greenhouses. There is space underneath to run pipes. There is a lot that I don't know in this area... so a lot of information to capture while we work on the rain barrels.

  5. Did you see? Did you see? Poet had a breakthrough!


  6. Breakthrough? In what? Send us a link!

  7. http://www.argusleader.com/article/20091119/NEWS/911190314/1001/news

    This is my first link on a blog comment. I wonder how its going to turn out. I wonder if Poet released this on their YouTube channel. Anyway you can tell from address where I got my info.


  8. There is a YouTube video with Dr. Mark Stowers posted yesterday and www.poet.com has it under the news release link.

  9. Great topic about water re-use.

    Also an interesting comment about how someone should be able to design and commercialize a system for less than $1,000.

    Its here. Well it is from 01/27/2010.

    A full graywater diversion and pumping system, and complete garden irrigation system suitable for up to 60,000 gallons per year.

    Cost? List is going to be $850

    Its well proven, an american version of Australian systems that have been in use for 5 years+.

    go to www.justwatersaversusa.com for details. (note some pages will not be loaded until the 27th)

    Paul James

    Melbourne, Australia, and Eugene OR


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