From Grey Water to Green Plants
Have you heard of La Niña? Despite the name, La Niña isn't a person 'she's' a thing - specifically a weather pattern. The important thing to know about La Niña is she tends to bring dry winters to the Southwestern US and that means drought. In my efforts to use water more efficiently I've added a grey-water system from our washing machine to irrigate a planting bed.
I've been planning this graywater system for quite a while. I took my time mostly because I was leery of cutting a hole through an exterior wall of our house. Other than destroying a hole-cutting bit on the stucco, actually cutting through the wall was simple. The only other challenge was in taking the time to measure, cut and dry fit all of the pipe before gluing the pieces together.
Using the grey-water irrigration system is easy as moving the washing machine drain hose 16 inches from the existing drain pipe to the grey water pipe. The graywater drain pipe uses larger radius turns to maintain smooth water flow and includes an exterior clean-out for easier maintenance. The pipe then connects into an existing branched drain irrigation system that was conveniently located downhill from the washing machine. In the winter the grey water pipe can be closed with a threaded cap.
Now, each time we run a load of laundry (using bio-degradable soap and no bleach) we water the plants in a garden bed. Today, native wildflowers and sunflowers grow in that bed. With a little luck some hybrid hazelnuts will soon grow there too. I'm also excited at the prospect of never hauling a hose across the yard to water that garden bed ever again.
New Mexico Environment Department - Gray Water Irrigation Guide (.pdf)