Greywater is a popular alternative to mains water because of increasing pressure on Melbourne's water supply.
The Victorian Government’s Permanent Water Saving Rules do not apply to greywater use, which means it can provide a good alternative water supply; however care must be taken to reduce human and environmental risks.
Before using greywater, consider:
- First adopting other simple and effective ways to save water
- Using rainwater instead (it is a good quality alternative to mains water and should be used in preference to greywater)
What is Greywater?
Greywater is waste water that consists of all non-toilet waste water. It includes waste water from showers, baths, spas, hand basins, washing machines, laundry troughs, dishwashers and kitchen sinks.
Whilst kitchen waste water is technically greywater, Council does not recommend the use of this waste water as it contains food wastes and other chemicals which are more difficult to breakdown.
How to use Greywater
The simplest way to collect and use greywater is to use a bucket or container, though there are also a range of systems for using greywater, including:
- Simple diversion systems (often available as simple greywater diverters from hardware stores)
- Diversion and filtration systems
- Diversion with treatment systems (more complex)
Some simple safety measures:
- Use the safest source of greywater possible and use environmentally-friendly detergents and cleaners (i.e. no or low-salt, low-phosphorous and biodegradable)
- Take care when using buckets and containers around young children and pets
- Don't store greywater for more than 24 hours
- Don't use greywater on edible plants such as vegetables
- Never use greywater which has faecal contamination (e.g. water to wash nappies)
- Use sub-surface irrigation where possible, and avoid spraying and hosing with greywater - this can spread chemicals and bacteria
- Minimise strains and injuries when carrying buckets by applying correct heavy lifting techniques
- Monitor your greywater use - check for odours or other signs (e.g. yellowing plants/grass) which may indicate that your system is not working effectively
EPA Victoria offers a useful publication on using greywater around the home.
Approvals for Greywater
In Frankston City, you do not need a permit for a simple diversion system. For a diversion and filtration system, check with Council's Environmental Health Unit on whether you need a septic tank permit. More complex diversion and treatment systems require EPA approval in both sewered and unsewered areas and must also have a septic tank permit from Council.