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Greywater recycling could cut water consumption

The College of Estate Management (CEM) is urging the government and water companies to do more to explain the importance and benefits of greywater recycling to the public. Its call came as research by CEM found that recycling waste greywater from showers, baths and wash basins would make a major contribution towards cutting water consumption in the UK.

Recycling waste greywater from showers would help reduce average consumptionRecycling waste greywater from showers would help reduce average consumption

The research said that greywater recycling systems are unlikely to catch on without financial incentives, however, as they are currently expensive and not widely used in Britain. It said people could be encouraged to recycle greywater by introducing water meters for all supplies, encouraging awareness and cost of water use, and by bringing in a tariff system to discourage excessive use of potable water.

Houses should also be designed to accommodate the future installation of greywater systems, through tighter design standards implemented by Building Regulations, said the report. And the greywater supply industry could consider an alternative business model, whereby installation costs are met by system suppliers and customers pay from resulting savings in their water bills.

The report, Grey Water for UK Housing, highlights the increasing demand for water, which is putting immense  pressure on supplies particularly in the South-east.

It estimates that if just one-in-ten of the UK population installed a greywater recycling system, the current average water consumption of 150l/d would be cut to 145l/d. If an additional 1% of the population installed a system every year, by 2042 the average consumption could drop to 125l/d, meeting current Building Regulations targets for new homes.

The report said: “There is no easy answer to how to encourage people to recycle water. Water is required to sustain life and it is in the public interest that water continues to be an affordable commodity. Education and various initiatives could be introduced to encourage more people to ‘go grey’.”

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