We will discuss a very basic and low cost grey-water recycling system here. Water shortage has led to the concept of reusing water. Now its mandatory in apartments to have a Sewage Treatment Plant(STP).
This system collects grey water (washing and bathing) from every unit in an underground pit usually dug up next to the sewage pit. The collected water is treated in several steps involving lots of chemicals. This water is either released in a lake or used at home for flushing, watering ornamental plants or simply cleaning.
Very strict monitoring is required to maintain the water to be free of health hazards. Even a small overlook can cause severe health issues. Often in the rainy season this water gets mixed with the sewage or other contaminants. Water coming out of homes with cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy has contamination which is not possible to remove with this type of treatment. Even simple uses like car washing with this treated water causes the car paint to fade away very fast with rusting(personal experience).
Looking at all these problems people prefer to use clean water for flushing which is actually a waste. A middle path would be to use the grey water generated in one’s own home for these uses. Grey water comes out from washing machine, sinks, showers and bathtubs. Washing machines use somewhere between 60-140 litres of water and the two-thirds of which is almost detergent free. Here is a basic system which can be used for recycling washing machine water. The good thing about this system is that it doesn’t require any remodelling or extra construction in the house. Making it useful for rented apartments where one cannot make any changes to the house.
First part of this system is an elevated platform height of which can be from one to two feet. It can be an old wooden table or iron stand. This is to collect the water coming out of the washing machine. Cost of such table made locally is less than 1000.
Second part is a storage tank which again can be an old plastic tub or bucket. The choice of the size will depend on the space and amount of water. In case of handwashing the used water can be stored in a similar way. A plastic tub of average quality and about 30 litre capacity would cost about 500 bucks.
Third part is a water pump. Its capacity will depend on the length between storage tank and flushing system. Good pumps are available at about 3000 bucks.
Fourth part is an iron shelf and a rectangular plastic water dispenser of 10 litres or more, connected to the flushing system. If options are there to put up a wall mounted water tank above the toilet seat, this part can be removed. A simple iron shelf costs about 1500 bucks and plastic tank about 500.
Pipes will cost another 500. Water pumped from the storage tank can be collected in this tank and used for flushing. Cost of the system if everything has to be purchased comes out to be 7000 on the higher side as there will be lot of variation in water tanks and iron shelf price depending upon the place of purchase.
With water bills running into several thousand every month this one time investment will be recovered in few months. This is a portable system and can be put in place in any apartment unit or taken down during times of water availability and put back in summer again.
The system is very good where laundry area is next to toilet or inside the washroom. Where utility/laundry is far from washroom some imagination is needed for putting the pipes in a more aesthetic way.
Water purification tablets can be added to the storage tank and water should be used in a day or two.
Try this system in your homes and do write to me.