Untreated greywater is wastewater from baths, showers, hand basins, laundry tubs and washing machines and can be used for watering lawns or gardens.
It contains fats and oils, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergents, hair and lint, making the water breed bacteria and turn grey if stored.
Greywater does not include wastewater from toilets or kitchens, including in-sink disposal units. It is illegal to use wastewater from toilets and kitchens as untreated greywater for health and environmental reasons.
You can also choose to install a greywater treatment system.
Greywater treatment system
Greywater treatment systems can be installed in houses to collect, treat and reuse greywater from showers, baths, basins and the laundry. Treated greywater can then be reused on the lawn and garden, for toilet flushing and as a cold water source in the laundry. Greywater treatment can help reduce water bills and, in times of drought and water restrictions, it may be the only source of water to keep your gardens and lawn alive.
There are two main greywater treatment systems:
- diversion devices, which can be as simple as a hose diverting water from the washing machine to the garden
- treatment systems, which are more complex and treat greywater for use in the washing machine or toilet, as well as the garden
Greywater treatment systems vary greatly in price. Depending on the complexity of the system and the intended end-use of the greywater, a simple diverter can cost under $1000. Complete treatment systems can cost several thousand dollars and water quality varies accordingly. The best option for you will depend on the amount of greywater you produce and your budget.
Greywater audit program
Brisbane City Council approval is required to install either a greywater diversion device or a greywater treatment system.
These systems are also monitored once they have been installed. This ensures they comply with the conditions of their approval and do not affect public or environmental health.
The program for greywater diversion devices involves an on-site inspection 12 months after the system’s commissioning date and an on-site inspection every three years after that. Greywater treatment plant owners must provide Council with a copy of the annual service report.
Participation in Council’s Greywater Audit Program is compulsory and some fees may apply.
Greywater offences and penalties
Council officers investigate any complaints lodged about greywater to ensure that your health, well-being and the environment are protected.
Authorised Council officers can issue on-the-spot fines for greywater offences such as:
- use of an unapproved greywater system
- installation performed by a person who is not a licensed plumber
- plumbing work not approved by Council
- allowing greywater to pond, cause an odour or run off the property
Use greywater responsibly. Follow all the approval conditions and avoid any fines.