Not everything you flush or dump in a drain is useless, and, in fact, reconsidering how to dispose of wastewater may be beneficial. Below is more information about separating graywater and how it can be advantageous.
Graywater is defined as wastewater drained from a sink, tub, dishwasher, or washing machine. In addition, graywater can include water collected from rooftops or other surfaces via gutters and drains. Essentially any type of wastewater, with the exception of that flushed from a toilet, can be categorized as graywater.
Since graywater doesn't present the same biological hazard as blackwater, which are toilet wastes, it can usually be handled in a less-rigorous manner and may even be reused for other purposes.
Advantages of Graywater Separation
While combining graywater and blackwater into a single waste-stream is common, there are advantages gained by separating the two types of wastewater. These include the following reasons below.
Reduced Strain on Septic System
Graywater adds to the fluid load of a septic system, and excessive amounts of water can cause septic tanks to back up and also may negatively affect the drain field. Separating graywater from the blackwater eases the load on the septic system and prolongs its lifespan and reduces pumping intervals.
Graywater separation is also an environmentally friendly means of handling wastewater. Instead of dumping everything into a sewer or septic system, graywater can be immediately reused for various purposes. This reduces the need to use tap or well water for taking care of tasks, such as irrigation, that will be wellserved by graywater.
Keep in mind that graywater is sometimes more akin to blackwater in composition, especially if it has been in contact with large amounts of feces and/or urine. In those cases, it is important not to separate the two wastewater types.
How Graywater Is Managed
You can separately manage graywater in a variety of ways, with considerable discretion granted to homeowners on how it's done. However, graywater cannot be drained directly onto the surface of the ground in most cases.
Below are a few of the most common methods for separately managing graywater.
One of the most common means of handling graywater on a separate basis is to utilize a drywell for disposal. Drywells consist of large containers, partially or completely buried in the ground, which accept graywater. At the bottom of the drywell lies gravel or stone, which provides filtration for the draining effluent. Ultimately, drywells allow graywater to percolate into the soil, which will provide final filtration before the water reaches the water table.
Graywater is considered by many to be ideal for irrigation purposes, so recycling graywater for this role is also important. Instead of using a drywell to capture and dispose of graywater, a graywater irrigation system utilizes an outgoing pump to push water into an irrigation network. To help clean the water, a filtration system is also usually included in a graywater irrigation system. The gray water is distributed among various drip irrigation heads, a highly efficient, low-evaporation means of providing water where it is needed.
Another graywater management strategy is to reuse the water for toilet flushing. Since there are no health concerns about graywater inside a toilet bowl, this is one of the best uses for graywater in areas where irrigation isn't necessary.
There are several possible ways to recycle graywater for toilet flushing. One method is to collect, then pump graywater into toilet tanks using dedicated plumbing. Another possible method is to utilize special fixtures in the bathroom that drain into the toilet tank directly. Finally, graywater can be collected by hand and dumped into the toilet tank, though this method is time and labor intensive.
Be sure to remember that graywater recycling often requires plumbing modifications, such as redirecting drains into special graywater pipes. This can add to the cost of retrofitting and may even exceed the overall cost of the equipment itself.
If you have questions about separating graywater from your wastewater, either to reuse or lessen its impact on your septic system, be sure to contact American Waste Septic for help. We are available to assist you in making the best decision.