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Minister Encourages Water Recyling

Media Statement from Hon. Bill Marmion, Minister for Environment; Water
Ministerial Media Statements

Bill Marmion Minister for Environment; Water

Tue 22 March, 2011

Minister encourages households to recycle water

Water Minister Bill Marmion has urged householders to look at installing greywater recycling systems, with about half of all household water use not requiring potable water.

Speaking at a water-efficient home in Leederville, to coincide with World Water Day, Mr Marmion said greywater recycling was a great way for families to conserve water and save money.

“Up to half the estimated average water used in households does not need to be drinking water quality and could be substituted with non-potable water sources,” he said.

“Non-drinking water sources such as rainwater tanks are a well-known way to bring extra water into the household cycle. Greywater - sourced from showers, baths and laundries - works by maximising the water you bring into your household by re-using it.

“This year’s World Water Day theme is ‘Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge’, and it is a good time to reflect on how to make better use of the water we have.”

The Minister said greywater could be used for gardens or plumbed back into the home for use in toilets and laundries after appropriate treatment.

“There is simple greywater use - such as putting a bucket in the shower and using it on the garden,” he said.

“Any negative effects on your garden can be minimised by using greywater- friendly soaps and detergents as well as supplementing greywater irrigation with bore or scheme water.

“Another option is a diversion system, which involves storing greywater that has been filtered.”

Mr Marmion said although greywater recycling was an efficient use of the resource, the more greywater a house used and the ‘greyer’ the water, the more the need to manage risks.

“Due to its origins, greywater can contain pathogens, high concentrations of nutrients and other contaminants that can pose a risk to human health or the environment if used inappropriately,” the Minister said.

“But there are professional standards and accredited systems here that explain the risks associated with its use that users need to be aware of.

“For example, water from the kitchen and dishwasher is not recommended for reuse in water recycling systems due to the high levels of organic materials such as oils and fats. Water from the toilet is regarded as blackwater and should not be recycled.

“Households should decide on the best solution depending on the amount of greywater produced, the size of gardens on the property, as well as their budget.”

Untreated greywater cannot be stored longer than 24 hours and must be used via sub-surface irrigation only. It should not be used on fruit, vegetables and herbs.

“It is worth considering that areas that have been irrigated with untreated greywater should remain inaccessible to children and pets,” Mr Marmion said.

“On the other hand, greywater treated through biological or chemical systems can be used more widely and plumbed back into the home.”

“Treated greywater can also be stored for longer periods.”

Where greywater treatment systems disinfect and can achieve water quality targets as set out by the Department of Health Code of Practice for the reuse of greywater in Western Australia, surface irrigation, toilet flushing and cold-water supply in laundries may be possible.

More information regarding household scale non-drinking water systems are available from the Department of Water’s Waterwise Community Toolkit, at http://www.water.wa.gov.au or by phoning the department on 6364 7600.

Minister's office - 9220 5000
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