May 16, 2009–Today’s Way: The majority of the water we use everyday is not very dirty—in fact, it’s called grey water—yet it is piped along with sewage water to be chemically treated and then dumped out into a lake, river or ocean near you.  A common problem of the antiquated infrastructure in most municipalities today is overflow caused from storm drainage, which is also piped through the same sewage system, and then all of that raw sewage is dumped without treatment directly into our lakes, rivers and oceans.  What if there were a different way to purify and recycle our waste water that doesn’t require chemicals and which restores water where we need it—back into the water table—and feed our gardens at the same time?  Well, there is.  It’s called a grey water treatment system, and it’s surprisingly simple to implement.

The basic idea goes something like this: Grey water systems take all the water that goes down the drain (not the toilet; this is considered “black” water and is a different situation altogether) from our sinks, tubs, washing machines, etc…and diverts it into a container or series of containers which pretreat, filter and purify the water before it is then recycled for uses such as watering our lawns or gardens.  Grey water systems can be very elaborate, with expensive holding tanks and pumps, or they can be as rudimentary as a gravity-fed bed or container filled with layers of sand and pea gravel, which serve as natural filters of larger particles and debris and then a treatment bed or bog which is little more than a large garden of specially selected plants which serve as natural and effective purifiers.  There are some wonderfully clever and beautiful grey water systems disguised as water gardens, and complex systems which pipe the purified water right back into the home for re-use.  No matter where you live or how much yard space you have, it is likely that there is some form of a grey water system for you and your budget.

To learn more, check out or Oasis Design for ideas, examples, plans and more.