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									Media Release
From the Plumbing Industry Commission                                       11 December 2007

Is Grey the New Green?

The combined effects of drought and severe water restrictions across Victoria have contributed
to a boom in the installation of grey water systems in houses - and in commercial and industrial

Victorian Plumbing Industry Commissioner, Tony Arnel, said that as recently as 18 months ago,
the idea of adapting existing plumbing or installing complete grey water systems was a long way
from public consciousness.

“Now, however, I’d hesitate to take a guess at how many people in homes and businesses
around Victoria have taken steps to enhance water conservation by setting up a water re-use
system of some sort,” Mr Arnel said.

Victorians are generally making the choice between two types of formal grey water systems:

      A diversion system that diverts untreated grey water for immediate use, usually from a
       wastewater system, that is usually based on a cost of between $800 and $1,000 or there
       are some cheap alternatives that can cost below $100.

      A special purpose grey water collection and treatment system, that might cost up to
       $10,000 - and requires special restrictions from the Environmental Protection Authority
       and local councils prior to installation

In addition, the Victorian Government offers a $500 rebate for the installation of any permanent
grey water system that recycles wastewater from laundries and bathrooms for use on gardens or
for toilet flushing. More information can be found at

Mr Arnel acknowledged that peoples’ intentions were to make better use of available water, but
he was concerned – as was the plumbing industry – that many consumers were installing grey
water systems without seeking the expert advice of Licensed and Registered Plumbing

“Like many things around the house, setting up a grey water system might seem a simple,
logical, do-it-yourself exercise. But by taking this approach, people may be putting themselves
and their families at risk,” he said.

“It’s important to understand that grey water can contain many pollutants, including cleaning
products, other chemicals, food and human waste that can have a serious health impact.”

The Plumbing Industry Commission offers the following grey water systems tips:
In the garden
               Carefully monitor the impact of the grey water irrigation system on your garden
               Apply grey water to the garden using a below ground system such as drip
                irrigation as this will reduce human exposure
               Grey water use must be confined within your property
               Overflow from a grey water system must discharge to a sewer or septic tank
               Do not use grey water to water vegetable crops that are eaten raw or
               Always wash your hands after gardening if you use grey water in your garden

In the kitchen:
             Kitchen wastewater should not be used as it is often heavily contaminated with
              fats, greases and solids

In the laundry:
             Check your laundry detergent for suitability, as it may not be advisable to use
              laundry wastewater, due to high detergent concentrations
             Use low-phosphorous detergents
             Do not use grey water that could have human waste contamination

In the bathroom
             Grey water to be used for toilet flushing must be treated specifically for that
              purpose. The PIC recommends consumers check with the manufacturer before
              purchasing any grey water systems

Around people and pets:
           Untreated grey water must not be stored longer than 24 hours
           Ensure adults, children and pets cannot drink or access grey water
           Ensure grey water does not contaminate any drinking water sources
           Use low-risk sources of grey water, such as water from the bath, shower or
            laundry rinse water

There are many useful websites available to help residents learn about grey water:


Susannah Tidemann
Manager, Marketing and Public Relations
(03) 9285 6477

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