ATA Greywater trial
Download a copy of the final report here
The Alternative Technology Association (ATA), with funding from the Smart Water Fund, carried out a trial of six greywater systems in private homes in Melbourne in order to assess the usability, health and safety issues associated with domestic greywater reuse.
ATA conducted the project in response to growing interest in greywater. Requests for information about greywater reuse continue to grow as the community responds to rebates offered by the Victorian Government, media focus on Australia’s ‘water crisis’ continues, and industry interest grows the water-conservation market.
ATA’s Smart Water Greywater Project provided valuable insights regarding the pros and cons of greywater reuse and the health, safety and regulatory issues faced by home-owners attempting to install and operate domestic greywater systems. In addition, the project has revealed significant barriers to wide-scale uptake of domestic greywater systems, allowing ATA to form conclusions about how best to reduce these barriers.
Key Project Findings
- greywater reuse has the potential to significantly reduce mains water use in private homes
- greywater reuse demonstrably encourages broader water conservation behaviour and responsible chemical product selection; in turn improving the health of the broader water cycle. Despite the obvious benefits and the feasibility of using greywater as a watersaving measure, the research identified a number of potential challenges and barriers that need consideration.
- greywater treatment systems can be complex and consume high levels of embodied and operational energy. This may not be justified at the domestic scale in many situations. Diversion systems, despite being the simplest, low-tech solution, need careful consideration of a number of issues in order to get the best results. However, with appropriate installation and management they can be used safely and effectively
- expert advice is required to marry greywater output with the water needs of a garden.
- permanent greywater diversions are being installed by the community, generally without knowledge of local council consultation requirements and frequently without an understanding of the potential risks to human and environmental health
- risks of harm to the environment or humans associated with greywater diversions are largely dependent upon levels of care taken by system owners
- some of the simple barriers numerous barriers prevent wide-scale uptake of greywater re-use;
- lack of awareness about greywater reuse possibilities and/or belief that domestic water recycling is important
- high cost of reusing greywater relative to the low (too low) cost of mains water
- difficulty accessing consistent and accurate information about greywater reuse
- narrow range of commercially-available greywater systems
- onerous and expensive approval processes for treatment systems