Greywater Use

Extreme water restrictions in effect from Monday 14th October 2019

Greywater is re-usable wastewater from washing machines, showers, baths and basins. The use of greywater can help households to reduce the amount of drinking water being used for watering gardens and is a valuable resource.

There are health and safety risks associated with holding and using greywater. Please read the information below carefully.

What is Greywater?
Greywater is re-usable wastewater from washing machines, showers, baths and basins. The use of greywater can help households to reduce the amount of drinking water being used for watering gardens and is a valuable resource.

What is Blackwater?
Blackwater is water that has been used in toilets, urinals, bidets and kitchen sinks. Blackwater has to be treated and disinfected before it can
be reused. Never use water that has come into contact with the toilet or any other toileting fixture such as a bidet or urinal. Furthermore, water that has been used to wash soiled nappies is also considered blackwater, and cannot be used.

What are the Benefits of Greywater?
Greywater benefits include:
- It is a relatively easy and safe source of water to access and use
- It is a good source of important nutrients for many plants

What is Bathurst Regional Council’s Greywater Policy?
Council’s Greywater Policy covers the use of greywater through:
- Manual bucketing
- Greywater diversion
- Greywater treatment

Council's Greywater Policy can be found on the Supports & Resources page in this section.  Residents who already have a greywater diversion system in place or may be interested in such a system should refer to this Greywater Policy in the first instance.

When to Use Greywater?
The manual bucketing of greywater does not require a Council approval, but it should be noted that under water restrictions greywater can only be used at the following times:
-  Between 6am and 9am and 6pm and 9pm on any day (Eastern Daylight Savings Time)
- Greywater must be used within 24 hours of it being collected

What to Consider When Using Greywater?
There are some things to consider with regard to the use of greywater, the first is that it contains contaminants, some of the common contaminants in greywater include:
- Salts
- Food materials
- Household detergents, soaps and chemicals
- Bacteria and other disease-causing microbes

Can I Weed 'n' Feed my lawn when watering with greywater?
Using greywater to apply Weed 'n' Feed, or a similar product that combines broad leaved herbicide with fertiliser, to lawns during dry times is not recommended since this product should be applied to wet lawns and then watered in to depth. Most households would not have sufficient greywater to achieve watering to depth. A better alternative is to delay fertiilsing lawns during dry times or apply a slow release organic fertiliser only at the start of Spring. Manual weeding of broad leaved weeds is recommended as an alternative to 'Weed and Feed'.

Ways to Reduce Health Risks When Using Greywater
It is important to be aware of the health risks attached to the use of greywater, some suggestions to reduce health risks are included below:
- Use lower risk sources of greywater, such as water from the shower, bath and laundry rinse cycle.
- Don’t use greywater on vegetable gardens
- Don’t use greywater if any member of your family is suffering from gastroenteritis
- Don’t irrigate your garden with greywater in wet weather or if the soil is already wet
- Don’t allow greywater to form pools or ponds in your garden. The microbes will thrive, creating an offensive smell and a health hazard
• Don’t allow your pets to drink greywater
- Take all steps to reduce public access to areas irrigated with greywater
- Keep children away from garden areas irrigated with greywater
- Make sure your swimming pool and any other water features, like ponds and birdbaths, are safe from greywater runoff.
- Encourage all the family to wash their hands before eating.
- For more information please refer to NSW Health web site www.health.nsw.gov.au

Consult with a licensed plumber before you attempt to alter any plumbing in your home and any use of greywater other than manual bucketing may be subject to Council and other approvals.

Practical suggestions for Safe Garden Use of Greywater
There are several practical suggestions that can assist with the use of greywater in the garden:
- Ingredients in cleaners and detergents that can harm or kill plants include total salts, sodium, chloride and boron. Check product labels carefully.
- Never hose, spray or mist untreated greywater. Greywater should be applied directly to the roots of the plant, not the foliage.
- Different plant, including natives, can tolerate differing amounts of nutrients. Consult with your local nursery for further information.
- Water your garden, in accordance with restrictions, with fresh water to help prevent the build-up of salts in your soil.

Consider your personal health and safety circumstances and that of those around you (including young children, seniors and people with mobility challenges) when collecting, holding, moving/carting and dispersing greywater.  

See Supports & Resources page for a printable version of the Greywater Fact Sheet.

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