I was inspired recently after visiting a friend and seeing the set up he had made himself for watering his lawn from the grey water that used to go to waste.
In days gone by, hoses have been connected directly from the washing machine straight out to the garden bed or lawn and while this works in a localized area, it isn't overly efficient at distributing the water and it can't be captured for future use.
The system my friend made was simple, effective and adaptable. The first thing was to divert the drain pipe on the shower and laundry sink from the waste to a small pit installed just outside the bathroom, a hole at the top of the pit ensures any excess water goes to the storm water in case of over flow.
A sump pump which can be bought for around $70 from the local hardware sits in the pit, it works with a float which activates the pump when the water in the pit reaches a certain level and switches off when the level recedes again.
A hose connected to the pump, (in this case a fire hose picked up at the local markets) takes the water up to a 500 litre tank installed at the top of the garden; a regular garden hose or poly pipe will do just fine.
From the tank the water is then gravity fed from another hose to a sprinkler, the sprinkler has a filter built in to catch any hair or debris which could be present because we are dealing with grey water.
Things like wetting agents and liquid fertilisers can also be added directly to the 500 litre tank.
I know what you're thinking... that's not enough pressure for a sprinkler to work!
Thanks to an Australian invention, the flow from the tank, without the need for an inline pump is enough to run the sprinkler.
We measured the radius of the area wet by the sprinkler and it was up to three meters!
The detergents and soaps/shampoos don't have an adverse effect on the plants, the tank and the pit are cleaned regularly to stop any odours which can occur from grey water. Because of the detergent in the water, mosquitoes aren't a problem either!
Just imagine... By using eco friendly detergents, shampoos and soaps, a large vegetable garden could be 100% irrigated with this system!
I would like to see this kind of set up in every house and if you need help to make it happen, I can install it for you!