Grey water recycling is the only option for domestic houses during a prolonged drought

Avoid hose bans and protect your home from water shortages by treating and recycling your own Grey Water.  The summer of 2018 will be remembered for the intense heat and the extended long dry period. Indeed likewise most of North America and Europe has been suffering from the same extended heat wave and drought. .
The report from Paul Melia 11 th July 2018 in the Irish Independent summarises the impact of climate change in contributing to the intense heat in the northern hemisphere this summer. His report is headed “A month of global weather has shown why we must act now”.
Yes, we all need to act now by providing new houses with a solution to reduce their water demand. Constructing raised beds with Reeds and Yellow Flag Iris flowers may look pretty to look at, but they can be engineered to have another important function also; Grey Water treatment and recycling. Unlike rain water harvesting – grey water reuse can happen even during periods of hose pipe bans or low water pressure. For a domestic house a total garden space of about 15 square meters is all that’s required for a typical domestic Grey Water reed bed treatment system.

Click to enlarge diagram

With grey water recycling it is possible to reduce mains water demand by over 30 %. Natural based systems using plants and flowers can purify the grey water that comes from sinks, baths and showers. The treatment standard that can be achieved will comply with the Irish Building Standards for toilet flushing and gardening. See page 18 in Part H of the Irish Building Regulations.
Reed beds are robust. By careful design, by proper sizing of beds and with proper garden maintenance, these systems will operate reliably for a long time. Having a reliably safe water supply from your own Grey Water Treatment System allows you the freedom to flush toilets and to water gardens during national hose bans or during periods when the water pressure is low or unreliable.

For a while now the Irish EPA has been warning us that extremes of weather are more likely to occur with increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The EPA prediction is that we may have more water shortages in summer particularly in the East. It looks like the prediction for future hot and dry summers is correct and will continue.
In addition, statements from the European Union advocate that water should be treated and recycled It states that the “Reuse of treated wastewater can provide significant environmental, social and economic benefits. Water reuse can improve the status of the environment both quantitatively,alleviating pressure by substituting abstraction, and qualitatively,
relieving pressure of discharge from Urban Waste Water Treatment Plants into rivers with less water flow. Moreover, when compared to alternative sources of water supply such as desalination or water transfer, water reuse often turns out to require lower investment costs and energy, also contributing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Indeed in the European Directive “Urban Waste Water Directive 91/271/eec” Article 12, 1 it states that “Treated waste water shall be reused whenever appropriate”. Is this prolonged hot dry summer and drought not the “appropriate” justification we need to treat and recycle domestic waste water? There is no doubt that continuous droughts will force us to recycle water and it will therefore become a dominant feature of the water treatment industry over the coming decades.

Our government will probably be focused only on the big urban centralized projects when it eventually decides to recycle water, but new houses should be harvesting rain water and recycling grey water also. All of the combined domestic waste water, including toilets, is very difficult and expensive to treat adequately for re use; but separated grey water can be more easily treated to meet the high standard necessary to recycle for toilets and gardens. We certainly don’t need to rely on mains water to
flush toilets.

Herr Ltd is an example of an Irish business that is providing these domestic grey water recycling systems
The cloudy water sample on the left below is untreated grey water that smells of stale shower water. The water in the glass on the right has passed through the Herr Reed Bed. It does not smell at all and now also meets the Irish treatment safety standards for re use for toilet flushing During the planning process when proposing a reed bed in your garden to treat grey water, make sure to submit Part H of the Building Regulations with your planning application. The option to treat and reuse to flush toilets from domestic grey water is now feasible using multiple stage reed beds and filters. These natural systems can be part of a domestic garden or part of a community green space to be maintained by the
community volunteers/ gardeners. With the prospect of more intense heat and summer water shortages over the coming decades, water recycling systems for domestic houses is something you should
consider for your new house.