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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reusing the wash water

The Benefits of Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater Systems

From: Madeline Valinski, University of Delaware, Class of 2015, Environmental Studies
Approximately 30% of household water use is for outdoor use in the form of garden irrigation. Outdoor water usage is very seasonal, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and outdoor water usage is highest when water availability is the lowest due to drought conditions and heat. 

The top three uses of water in the household are for landscaping, sewage, and laundry. Yet a simple laundry-to-landscape system could reduce one of these high water wasters. A laundry-to-landscape system might not be the only step to make the garden water neutral; approximately 15% of household water use is for laundry, which could at least reduce outdoor water usage by 50% if a laundry-to-landscape system were installed.

Laundry-to-landscape systems can be a very smart investment for homeowners that live in areas of water scarcity or in areas that use a lot of water outdoors. If installed by a professional, a laundry-to-landscape system costs between $700 and $2,000. 

Materials cost approximately $100 to $250, and installation courses cost approximately $100 through Greywater Action, a "collaborative group of educators, designers, builders, and artists who educate and empower people to build sustainable water culture and infrastructure."

The maintenance for a laundry-to-landscape system is relatively low, which means that it would be very easy to sustain the use of a laundry-to-landscape system for the long haul. Other greywater systems, such as recycling all household water except for toilet water, are more likely to encounter mechanical problems and face sanitary concerns. 

However, due to the simplicity of laundry-to-landscape systems, it is easier for homeowners to properly maintain the more limited greywater system and require less of an investment in future plumbing problems.

Laundry-to-landscape greywater systems are a great investment to reduce water consumption with little maintenance and relatively low installation costs. There are many tools available to homeowners looking to install a laundry-to-landscape greywater system. And it can provide as much as a 15% reduction in household water consumption. This practice could make a real difference in water availability if employed on a large scale in drought-prone areas.  

Grey water process condensed from GreywaterAction.

This story is part of the Collegiate Corner, a section of ENN dedicated to student work. All work in this column is the product of the student in its entirely. If you have questions about the Collegiate Corner or would like to submit please contact: