<a href="http://www.gmagazine.com.au/blogs/julie#">Green challenges</a>

Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Reusing water in the garden

Rainwater tank

Credit: one thousand years / Flickr.com

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If you're serious about saving water for our challenge, you'll want to look into rainwater tanks and greywater systems for your garden and maybe even your home. It fits in neatly to our "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" mantra for environmental living, because why should water only get used once?

Rainwater tanks used to be everywhere, but now they're mostly in country areas. Adelaide is leading the way in bringing them back to urban areas, with nearly half of homes there having a rainwater tank of their own. The rest of Australia needs to follow their example!

By catching rainwater and using it on your garden, you're not just saving yourself money on your water bill. You're also reducing pressure on stormwater systems and preventing run-off. There are regulations on how to set up your rainwater tank, mostly because your gutters and downpipes are not very clean places to collect water from. So make sure you check with your local council or state government to keep things all above board.

Greywater systems are the next step up: these collect water from your shower or laundry so you can re-use it on your garden. According to the federal government, the average Australian household produces 80 litres of greywater a day - it seems silly to just pour it down the drain!

Restrictions on greywater are stricter than on rainwater tanks, because there's a much greater potential for contaminants. You wouldn't want it in your kitchen, or on your vegie patch. But they're still a great way to get value from your water use, sort of a "two uses for the price of one" deal. It can be used on your lawn, or even in your house - your toilet doesn't need drinking-quality water, re-used shower water is good enough for that.

I wanted to get a greywater system set up in our home, but found out that our 1980s house wasn't built to make it possible - we would have had to rip up the laundry floor! Newer houses in WA are required to have greywater pipes included, ready to have a greywater system attached if the owner wants to get one later on. I think this is very sensible. Is it the same in other states? I hope so!

So for now I'll be making do with collecting my washing-machine water in a bucket for the lawn, and getting a rainwater tank. If you're keen to get a greywater system, why not read up on G Magazine's Grey Matters article, or the government's step-by-step greywater guide?