There’s no way around it. Water is vital to human life and its scarcity should scare us enough to conserve it…yet we don’t. In light of this conundrum, there are many terms used in the water conservation arena that are not exactly self-explanatory. For instance, there has been confusion over what greywater and blackwater actually is and what applications, if any, are there. Well buckle your seatbelts and hold on to your Brita filter because we’re about to jump headfirst into the wonderful world of dirty water.
Greywater is classified as wastewater generated from most domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, andbathing. Its etymology stems from the cloudy, semi-opaque appearance of the neither fresh, nor polluted water. Similarly, blackwater is also wastewater, though it distinctly contains fecal matter and/or urine. It is also referred to as brown water, foul water, or just sewage. Eco-philosophy separates the two wastewaters in efforts of reducing the amount of water that ultimately becomes polluted.
Applications-You can do what, with what?
In most cases, blackwater is strictly off limits once it is conceived. Greywater on the other hand has a wide range of uses and benefits. Because of the low levels of contaminants present, greywater can be reused to irrigate plants and flush toilets, among many other uses. Of course, to what degree your water can be reused depends on the components you release into it. It’s also a good idea to check up with what the government is saying about greywater and some tips or strategies they may have for the public, even if the government is Australia’s.
Due to blackwater’s potentially dangerous materials, it must be treated and processed before it can be released safely into the environment. All of this can theoretically be avoided by utilizing a composting or vermicomposting toilet, which safely composts your waste. Additionally, not only are you saving precious water resources (up to 20-50%), but you are also blessed with nutrient rich fertilizer!
So there you have it! (Cue music and “The More You Know” graphic) That’s everything you’ll need to know to get started on your wastewater odyssey, and if we all work together to protect the environment, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.