Graywater Could Be the Solution to the Water Crisis


We probably all know that among the many inconveniences caused by El Nino, a major drought is one of them. Many regions throughout the United Sates are struggling to keep up with the water demand, with wide areas in the west having to put up with moderate to severe drought, and California now being in its five consecutive year of drought.

But there are many other factors which influence these water shortages, such as rapid population growth and excess consumption. California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and even the generally non-arid Southeast are all struggling with water shortages. So both local and state governments are looking to find a way out of this pickle.

According to California State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus,

We’re going to have to think very carefully about what we do next. Do we lift the regulations and hope for a better next year, and hope that Californians steward what water they have in local supplies augmented by whatever supplies they get? Or do we continue but adjust the regulations to recognize that we’re in better – but not tip-top – shape?

With all the risks involved in attempting any maneuver, one particular way came out as very effective during simulations, but people may be quite reticent to go about it. I’m talking about how graywater could be the solution to the water crisis, at least according to a team of researchers from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Graywater is the water left in sinks, bathtubs, showers, laundry machines, etc.; basically reused water that isn’t from toilets or kitchens. The idea is to reuse this water for various household purposes other than consumptions – such as flushing toilets or doing the laundry.

Of course, the idea isn’t to use the water directly, but to have it treated accordingly and then reused. But this isn’t by any means a new idea. Scientists have been suggesting this solution for years, but until recently, law required that graywater be stored in the same place as blackwater (water from toilets), rendering unusable.

Now that the legislature has been changed, experts are back to suggest reusing graywater. According to their simulations, reusing graywater just to flush toilets would reduce the indoor water consumption by 24 percent, while also using it for laundry, after being treated, would reduce water consumption by 36 percent.

Overall, this would save around 13 percent more water than we currently have, allowing all citizens in areas affected by drought to get rid of the imposed limitations. However, as the costs of implementing the system haven’t yet been calculated, and people are iffy about reusing water, the proposition will most likely fail.

Image source: Wikimedia