There is a water shortage in most capital cities, however this is mainly because we waste so much. We flush our toilets and wash our clothes in drinking water that has been sanitised at huge cost. We send a lot of water down the drain to mix with sewage when it can be used on the garden. People often get put off because they assume you have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on greywater systems or tanks. This is not the case and twenty dollars should get you a long way, if your house is raised. I divert shower water onto the garden and fruit trees and have not had any problems with soap. I have not bothered to get environmentally friendly soap. I also divert a lot of the roof runoff straight onto the ground without storage. It used to be illegal to use greywater, just as it used to be illegal to have a rainwater tank. But the drought has forced our politicians to quietly remove all these obstacles to avoid embarassment.

Do’s and dont’s:

If you are using untreated greywater, do not put it all in the same spot. It is not allowed to pool or become smelly. Move the hose after each shower. Do not use kitchen sink water – I think the fats and oils are bad. Unless you use special laundry detergent, do not use the first batch of laundry water, but the rinse cycle water should be OK.

How you go about setting it up depends on the fittings you already have. What you should look for is a simple way to connect a garden hose to the water drainpipe and let gravity do the rest. Your shower needs to be well above ground level for this to work. My bathtub has an S-bend with a drain plug at the bottom. I unscrewed this and screwed in about $5 worth of fittings and now the garden hose clips directly on. This is by far the safest and easiest option. If the hose gets blcoked the water just diverts down the drain into the sewage system. If you have an elbow with a plug instead, you will need to get a ‘water saver.’ This is a floppy black rubber funnel that is inserted into the pipe. The wide part of the funnel expands and seals against the inside of the pipe to divert all the water. You connect your garden hose to the thin end of the funnel. If neither of these two options are open to you, you can always cut the PVS pipe and install a T-juntion with an inbuilt diverter that allows you to easily switch between sending the water down to the sewer or into your garden hose.

Be careful with the hose – it needs to slope downhill most or all of the way or it will get blocked by air pockets. How much attention you need to pay to this depends on how much of a drop you have to work with and how long the hose needs to be.

For those of you in Brisbane, I will share some of my personal experiences. The following crops are listed in order of the ease with which they can be grown. I have fairly heavy clay soil.