Greywater Systems Offer Lifeline to Drought-Impacted Homes

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As the level of alarm over shrinking water supplies escalates, companies that recycle household water may have the right product at the right time.

This summer, my brother and his teenage son went on a rafting expedition down the Colorado River. “Is that still possible?” I asked naively. “I thought the drought would have dropped the water to impassable levels.”

“Naw,” he said. “They have a system that keeps the river at about the same level all the time, by opening and closing dams.”

That sleight of hand helps explain why more people out West aren’t more panicked. Every time the water authority robs Peter to supply Paul, as it were, end users don’t see much difference in their local water supply—not yet.  Look at the supply end of the waterworks, however, such as Lake Mead and the less-than-normal snowy mountain ranges to the North, and the story is dire. The likelihood of the region recovering any time soon is slim, and as The New York Times reports, the situation is getting worse.


Preparing for the Long Emergency


Ready to Recycle? Modern greywater systems such as this one from Greyter Water Systems offer turnkey installation and well-documented performance.

Let’s assume that this megadrought continues over the next couple years, as expected. The crisis could hit home rapidly, as traditional reservoirs approach critical levels, and can no longer keep the rivers flowing. How many homes currently have the water-saving resilience to survive severe rapid water rationing?

In an emergency water shortage, it’s assumed that everything that as little outdoor water use as possible will be allowed. Indoor, if you read some of the municipal plans from some towns in California, the goal is simple: “minimal” use of toilets, extremely limited showers, and little or no laundering. That’s assuming there’s still water to dole out.

While the first dominos to fall in the water use chain will be large-scale farmers and manufacturers, homeowners will feel the pinch soon as well.

Let’s assume you’ve crossed off all of the more common water-saving features. You’ve installed low-flow faucets and showerheads. You wash only full loads of dishes in short cycles. You use a front-loading water-efficient clothes dryer. You install a leak detector at your water inlet valve. Your toilets include dual-flush options and miserly flushing volumes. Are you done conserving? Not necessarily.

Full Circle Water Recycling

I encountered an innovator named John Bell last year, who’s developed one of the best greywater recycling systems I’ve ever seen. It’s a turnkey, slick-looking product that can reduce your water dependency by about 25 percent.

With his Greyter Water System, Bell has solved some of the dodgiest issues with greywater re-use in the home. The system takes water from household showers, filters it, sterilizes it, and re-introduces it into the home’s water supply—but only as a non-potable source for toilets. Toilets tend to be the biggest water users in the home, with most occupants flushing at least five times daily.

I’ve embedded a video below that gives a more detailed look at one of these Greyter products. The company can provide you with real-world case studies and more information.