What is greywater?

Greywater is any household waste-water that comes from your washing machine, shower, bath and basins. Greywater does not include waste-water from toilets.

Using greywater is an effective way to preserve our precious drinking water.

How can greywater be used?

Greywater can be used for watering plants and flushing the toilet. It can even be used for washing clothes if properly treated.

Manual bucketing

You can manually collect water from your washing machine or shower which can then be used to water your garden.

Greywater diversion

A greywater diversion device will distribute greywater beneath the surface of your garden or lawn. You do not need Council approval to install a greywater diversion device provided that it meets Section 75a of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005. If you are unsure, please phone our Help and Service Centre.

Greywater treatment

In order to use greywater in toilets, washing machines and above ground watering in the garden, you will need to install a greywater treatment system. This will require Council approval, and in some cases a Development Application. The system must also be registered with NSW Health.

Things to consider before installing a greywater diversion device or treatment system

Greywater usage may not be suitable for all sites and homes. While it can save a lot of water, there are some drawbacks to using greywater, and other ways of conserving water, such as a rainwater tank, may be more appropriate. Consider the following before making a decision about using greywater:

  • installation and maintenance costs can be high
  • cleaning products, detergents, soaps, bleach and disinfectant in greywater can build up in soil, increasing pH levels, or killing off organisms in the ground
  • the ground surrounding a diversion device can become permanently boggy, leading to problems in growing plants, or producing polluted run-off which flows into catchments

Requirements for installing a greywater diversion device or treatment system

Council will generally approve greywater reuse schemes based on their likelihood of succeeding. Please read the following requirements:

  • Council cannot approve a greywater system for use unless it has been accredited by the NSW Department of Health.
  • Approval must be granted by Council before the system can be installed.
  • Regular inspections and soil analysis will be required. A soil analysis of the site and a permeability study must be carried out by a qualified person.
  • Plumbing must comply with Sydney Water guidelines to prevent backflow into drinking water and to provide a diversion into the sewer if the system fails.
  • No reuse system within 50 metres of a water course will be approved.
  • If earthworks are required to install a diversion device or treatment system, a development application and consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act is needed. (In this instance, Council will waive normal fees.)

More information and helpful links

For more information on Council's planning and building requirements, see the Water Guidelines page.

The Sydney Water website has lots of useful information about greywater, the different types of systems that you can install, and how to maintain your diversion device or treatment system.

The NSW Government's website Recycling Water Guidelines also offers helpful information about greywater, inlcuding a easy to read guide for using greywater in the home.