Greywater danger from public confusion

Thursday, 13 April, 2006

The Master Plumbers Association (MPAQ) is calling for more community education and awareness for the safe use of greywater in domestic gardens.

MPAQ president Bob Kimlin says since recent law changes allowing the use of greywater in gardens, there has been much confusion and Master Plumbers across the state are reporting that many people are using greywater in ways that can be extremely dangerous.

"It's extremely important to use greywater safely. It can contain pathogens that pose a huge risk to public health. It can also contain contaminants such as detergents and even faecal contamination."

Mr Kimlin says that people should only use it on gardens and lawns and residents need to make sure they follow a number of steps to ensure their safety and public health in general.

"If you are hand bucketing greywater onto your gardens and lawns then it is important to rotate the areas you water. Only use wastewater from baths, showers, hand basins and final rinse washing machine water."

"Avoiding run off by only using greywater sparingly is another key point and never use it during wet or rainy periods. You should stop using greywater if odours are generated and plants don't appear healthy."

Mr Kimlin says members of MPAQ have been reporting some highly dangerous uses of greywater.

"Greywater should not be used on vegetable gardens and waste water from laundered nappies or kitchen wastewater, including dishwasher water should never be used. We've also had reports of people storing greywater for more than 24 hours and that is illegal as well as dangerous."

Mr Kimlin says maximum storage of greywater is only 1 hour in Queensland and it should never be drunk or played with by children or pets.

Mr Kimlin says the most practical way to safely use greywater is to have a licensed plumber install either an approved diversion and dispersal system or a greywater treatment plant.

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