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How to recycle your water

Updated on August 23, 2014

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Water is a valuable resource

– When you don’t have much water, it’s surprising how the conservation of it rises in priority. When you live in an area traditionally short of water you work out ways of safeguarding it, yet there’s no reason why the ideas shouldn’t be applied everywhere. Treat water as the precious life-giving liquid it is and there’ll be enough to go around. Waste it and you’ll eventually be in trouble and you'll be wishing for yesterday.

Semi-drought. Oh, oh, no water...

How many people use water wisely? Okay they might prevent its waste, but what about recycling?

Most people in the western world recycle some of their household goods. They probably put glass, paper and plastic into recycling containers, might even recycle clothing – but water? Water is tipped down the drain.

Why? Water can be recycled.

When we retired, we moved from the UK to live in Spain. When we first arrived, the area was suffering semi-drought condition so we quickly learned to be careful not to waste it – not leaving the tap running whilst cleaning teeth, making sure we had no dripping taps, took showers instead of baths - everything was done with water conservation in mind. We’ve now taken it one step further though, and what we do use is mostly recycled. The only water not recycled is waste from the toilets. We have learned to treat water wisely, to have a romance with it.

1000 litre tank for 'grey' water
1000 litre tank for 'grey' water

How do we recycle water?

All water from our showers, baths, hand-basins and washing machine is redirected to a 100-litre (20 gallon) water sump in the basement of our villa. When this is full, a float switch detects it and the water is automatically pumped to a 1000 litre (200 gallon) tank above ground. This water has chance to settle, then is used to water the plants in the garden – and there is always plenty to go around. Dish washing water is removed separately to prevent trapped food particles entering the water system, but is still used in the garden.

About twice a year, we empty the 1000 litre water tank and clean out the settled ‘mud’.

Swimming pool with cover
Swimming pool with cover

Deep rooted plants rule - okay!

We don’t use recycled water on shallow-rooted plants, because although water from the washing machine is diluted by water from hand basins and showers, the detergents might be aggressive. Instead, we use it on deep-rooted hedges, trees and shrubs, so that bacteria in the soil have chance to break down whatever is in the water before reaching roots. Our plants thrive – much better than chucking water down the drain.

A markerxalo -
03727 Xaló, Alicante, Spain
get directions

But what about water for the swimming pool?

…. swimming pools can be greedy for water.

A lot of ex-patriots living in Spain purchase properties with swimming pools, or have a pool constructed. Wind is responsible for major evaporation of water from pools. In summer, when pool conditions are warm and wind is high, 25mm (1 inch) of water can be lost in one single day.

For a standard 8metre x 4metre pool, that’s an incredible 800 litres (175 gallons) of water:- ie. 8*4*0.025 = 0.8 cu metres = 800 litres.

The wind isn't extreme all the time of course, but it happens enough to be a worry - unfortunately hot weather causes hot air to rise and cooler air rushes in to replace it - wind. Even mild wind evaporates frightening amounts of water.

About the author

  • Inspirational stories by AJ have been published since 1994 in magazines, summer specials and international competitions, broadcast on radio and recorded for audio books.

But help is at hand….


Environmentally friendly help… Pool covers.

Pool covers do a sterling job. With a cover, water evaporation is almost eliminated, pools are warmer, chemical usage is reduced, and debris kept in control. Many types can be found, but in general, a cheap translucent bubble-wrap cover is quite adequate.

Forget expensive alternatives

Experience has shown that expensive varieties last very little longer and often don’t heat the pool as efficiently – and heating the pool is probably the single reason most people purchase.

For some reason, people not living here, have the idea you are able to swim all year round – nonsense. In the Costa Blanca area, you’ll be lucky if a pool is warm enough to use for four months of the year. Keeping a pool covered can increase that to six or seven months – a win-win situation, saves water, keeps the pool warm.

So, recycle your water and cover your pool. Look after your water, and it will look after you. Think green.


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    • profile image

      Anthony James Barnett - author 8 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Shreya. Nice to have hit the spot.

    • profile image

      shreya 8 years ago

      A wonderful step by this hub to encourage people to save water and care about mother earth . i am really impressed . a good initiative

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      Wastewater Treatment Systems Thailand 8 years ago

      this is a very good approach, and in my home we reuse the greywater very similarly to irrigate the garden.Water recycling can also be done using commercial systems, which are available als as very small systems for a one family home. The modern systems use microfiltration and can help you reclaim all household wastewater. The purified water complies with EU regulations for bathing water.

    • ajbarnett profile image

      ajbarnett 9 years ago from Costa Blanca, Spain

      Thanks for that Denny. Most people aren't water eco-minded yet. But it doesn't take much.

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 9 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      Great hub with a lot of practical easy to do advice, thanks, Anthony, blogging this one too!