Catching the water...

Golden Rule for catching greywater...

Never store greywater or let is sit for more than 24 hours. If you are not going to use it immediately, don't collect it! If your garden doesn't need watering today, let the shower water run down the drain in the normal way.

What I've used...
I bought a round 500L poly tank (about $80) and sawed off its top (now part of the DIY free-ranging chook feeder project). The bottom part, my Big Bucket, has a top diameter of 85cm (slightly less than the width of my shower alcove), is 28cm high, and has a capacity of about 120L - more than enough capacity even for extra long showers including washing long hair, shaving legs, etc. This particular poly tank happens to have gradations on its inner walls. These are quite handy for knowing how much water is being delivered to the garden - and for feeling guilty if you stay in the shower too long!

The person taking a shower simply stands in the water that is collecting in the Big Bucket - don't knock till you've tried it! The water keeps your feet nicely warm and, believe it or not, you'll probably not even notice you are standing in water after about Day 2.

The photo below shows just one of the many possible variations of the Big Bucket. This is the way mine was set up for the first couple of years I was using it, but I've recently made the modifications described in ...getting it out of the house.... (See Fig. 1 on the Details page for a close-up of the filter on the inside of the bucket over the outlet.)

The Big Bucket
(one of many possible variations)

Almost anything that will fit in your shower alcove, hold water, and allow you to cut an outlet hole (if you want to use it with an in-line pump), will do. The other day when I was looking for something to use to make my splitter box, I noticed there is a much bigger array of storage boxes, etc., available now than there was when I was trying to find something suitable to use as a Big Bucket. Some looked sturdy enough to stand in, and there was a range of sizes up to about 120L.

Arthur is using a plastic storage box - a rectangular box about 40 x 60cm and about 30cm high. Since the majority of the shower water runs straight down the body, the collection bucket does not really need to be as wide as mine to catch most of it. Besides, you will need to allow at least a little water to run down the drain occasionally to prevent the water-seal trap in the drain from drying out (which would allow unpleasant drain smells to enter your house). I'd say a capacity of about 50 litres would be the minimum, but you can calculate what best suits your household's showering habits by multiplying the duration of the longest showers in minutes by 10 (one minute with a water-saving showerhead = about 10L).

Or, if you decide to use a sump pump rather than an in-line pump, you won't need to cut an outlet hole in your bucket. Inexpensive large buckets with handles like the one below are readily available for about $15.

Actually, using a bucket like this with a sump pump, and using mulch-filled trenches to distribute the water to your plants, would be the cheapest option. You'd only need to buy this (or a similar) bucket, a sump pump ($120 for the one in Fig 8 on the Details page), and a greywater hose ($7.50) and clamp ($1.30) like the ones shown below. The rubber push-on connectors on the ends of the hose are the right size for the outlet of the above pump but you'd also want to use the clamp to make it really secure. This setup assumes you will take the greywater hose out through a doorway or window rather than using a thru-wall fitting. The hose shown here is 10m. If you need to connect two of these together, the grey push-on rubber connector ($2) shown below gives a surprisingly secure and easy join. All these items are readily available, for example at Bunnings, and the only tool you'd need to put this system together is a screwdriver to tighten the clamp.


You might be able to find something more attractive than my cut-off water tank to function as your Big Bucket. Either way, once you have closed your shower screen or curtain, you won't see this part. When deciding what to use, you might want to consider where you will store it during wet weather when it is not in use. The tank I used was cut off at the height that it is so that I can slide it out of sight under my bed.

When I first thought up the Big Bucket concept I put considerable effort into trying to find someone who might want to manufacture and market a purpose-built bucket to catch the shower water. I envisaged something with a contoured bottom, with a lower part where the water would run to facilitate pumping out the water with a sump pump (with the option for other pump types). I had imagined something more attractive than I am using, possibly with a built-in cover to hide the sump pump. I had planned on simply giving away my design for the sake of having a relatively inexpensive shower greywater device available on the market. So...if you are a manufacturer, please feel free to copy my concept! (I'd be curious to hear about what you are doing though.)

There are various options for hiding the pump, although I must admit I take a certain glee in having a little red pump sitting in my bathroom!

See the next page, ...getting it out of the house..., for options and pumps for dealing with the used shower water once you have collected it.

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