A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Increase Greywater Reuse with Prices of Water & Wastewater?

During the course of traveling in Italy for work with UNESCO, I have been keeping an eye out for evidence of greywater reuse. About as close as I can get is water use in fountains (this one in Perugia) much like that previously posted for the other "Italy" - the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, but I am skeptical. Why is this? I found this article by Water Rhapsody about Denmark's freshwater and wastewater prices being the highest in the world.

"According to the Copenhagen Post, the survey of water prices across 20 Western nations revealed Denmark to be by far the most expensive. With prices of USD 6.7 per cubic metre, Danish water costs almost one dollar more per measure than in second-placed Scotland, and USD 6.20 more than in Mexico, the cheapest of the bunch. Head of the Danish water and wastewater supply association (DANVA) Carl-Emil Larsen, however, claimed that Denmark has long-standing policy that all costs related to fresh water and wastewater disposal should be paid by the consumer. “They don’t do that in countries like Italy,” he said."

So what is the connection to the price of water and greywater? I regularly follow water news in Wyoming because of my previous connection to the region, and the local newspaper, The Laramie Boomerang, ran an interesting article on water use and new water rates based on water use. Despite the few comments griping about the cost of Laramie's water compared to places like the pricey resort town of Jackson, which many in Wyoming would like to give or trade to Idaho or Montana for their water rights to their rivers, one thoughtful person posted the following comment:

"I've had luck reducing water consumption with gray-water irrigation. I flood irrigate with the washing machine. Even a front loader uses a bathtub full of water every load. Hope to utilize the shower and kithen sink next year to conserve even more. "

There you have it. Raise prices of water like Dr. David Zetland of Aguanomics preaches, and watch greywater reuse increase.

Perhaps prices can also overcome the paranoia of reusing greywater leading credence to FUDing about Greywater is FONEY.


  1. Hi Todd,

    an interesting figure out of Melbourne Australia is the cost of water via desalination. At approx US$6 per cubic metre (kilolitre), it is expensive. Because the desal plant will contribute 40% of the long term water supply, the averaged cost of desal & dam water will be about US$4 per kilolitre. Add to that a sewage disposal cost, and the end result is about $600 - $700 per year to water the garden.

    You might imagine that graywater is popular, given that a system can be installed for less than $1,500 after rebate, so the pay back time is less than 3 years,

    It will take a few years to get to that stage in the U.S. however it will happen.



  2. Thanks for the update Paul. I followed up with some numbers from Africa as outlined in recent posting. Always great to hear from down under.