Environmental impact and health risks associated with greywater irrigation: a case study Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • There is an increasing trend to use greywater for irrigation in households. This is partly due to the notion that greywater is of better quality than wastewater and therefore does not need extensive treatment beyond addressing public health issues. The aim of the study was to evaluate the environmental impact and health risks associated with the use of greywater for irrigation on a small private farm. Over a three-year period, each of three plots on a farm was irrigated with either freshwater, fertilized water, or greywater. Irrigation water and soil from the plots were analyzed for a wide range of chemical and microbial variables. Results suggest that greywater may be of similar quality to wastewater in several parameters such as BOD and faecal coliforms. For some other variables such as boron and surfactants, greywater may even be of worse quality than wastewater. Long-term irrigation of arid loess soil with greywater may result in accumulation of salts, surfactants and boron in the soil, causing changes in soil properties and toxicity to plants. Faecal coliforms did not survive in the soil. Treating greywater before using it for irrigation is recommended, even in places where this is not a requirement.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005