Does a recycled water irrigation system sound strange to you? When you think about it, almost all of the water we use is recycled in some way. To make our tap water, water treatment plants take in previously used water. They filter and treat that water in order to make it potable. Most of us use that potable water to care for our lawns and gardens, but we don’t have to.
Plants don’t need water to be as clean as we do, after all, plants are used to rain water. So, we can use “recycled” water to meet our landscaping needs. This water is still treated by the city, just not to the same standards required for potable water. While you can’t drink recycled water, it’s perfectly safe to walk on a lawn that has just been watered with it.
The Basics of Recycled Water
Using a recycled water irrigation system will reduce the cost of your water and help you abide by water restrictions without sacrificing a green lawn or a lush garden. In turn, the city has to produce less potable water to it’s residents, which saves it money and keeps our potable water levels high for when we need it.
You may think the biggest savings from recycled water would be from the commercial recycled water systems that help greenhouses and farmers meet their water needs with a lower budget. However, homeowners can make a big impact with recycled water too.
The EPA estimates that a third of all residential water is used to irrigate our lawns and gardens. Reducing your water use for irrigation can increase how much fresh water is available in your city, and decrease the amount of water used in your city overall.
Those are the basic benefits of choosing to switch to a recycled water irrigation system, but there are drawbacks too. What should you consider when making your decision?
In your recycled water system, you can use your own grey water (water previously used to wash your hands or shower in) or you can use recycled water that your city delivers to you, which it also sanitizes for you. Either way, you’ll need to be sure your system is legal. Some cities do not allow recycled water systems, usually because their plumbing can’t effectively handle it. Other cities encourage it.
Many cities and organizations, especially those in the West, have seen the benefits of using recycled water for irrigation. They often offer incentive programs to encourage homeowners to invest in recycled water irrigation systems. This might be lower cost on recycled water, or a tax rebate on a portion of the costs of your system.
For example, Colorado has more than a dozen water recycling programs, and each offers recycled water at cheaper rates than potable water. Many Colorado water utilities offer rebates on irrigation equipment, which may apply to your recycled water irrigation system. A quick search on your public utility’s website should show you which rebates are available.
Recycled Water Pipes
Recycled water pipes are purple, so that plumbers, water treatment technicians, and homeowners won’t mistake the lines for potable water lines and cause contamination issues. Your city may already have these special pipes running near you. If not, and you plan to use the grey water you produce in your home, it’s best to use these specialty pipes for the purpose. There may be legal requirements around this, and your sprinkler technician should be able to inform you of what you’ll need to do to stay within the law.
Options for Algae Control
Recycled water is nutrient rich. It will bring more minerals and salts to your landscaping than usual. While this can be a great benefits to the plants you’re trying to grow, it can also create ideal conditions for algae growth in your ponds or pools. You likely already use an algaecide to control its growth in your pool. If so, you’ll need to use more of it.