• Pergamon

Wal. Sci. Tech. Vol. 39, No.5, pp. 25-32, 1999 e 1999IAWQ Published by Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved 0273-1223/99 $19.00 + 0.00

PH: S0273-1223(99)00083-9


A. Dixon*, D. Butler* and A. Fewkes**

• Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK .* Department of Building and Environmental Health, The Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK


For a sustainable urban future, society must move towards the goal of efficient and appropriate water use. Reuse of domestic greywater and rainwater has a significant role to play in this task. In this study, rainfall time series have been used in conjunction with estimates of domestic water appliance usage generated by the Monte-Carlo simulation technique to predict long term system performance. Model results show that changes in the attributes of household occupancy, roof area, appliance type and storage volume affect the water saving efficiency of a single store reuse system. Considering greywater and rainwater in combination, the greatest rate of increase of efficiency with storage size occurs in the range 0-100 litres. Further analysis of small volume storage and reuse indicates that savings of up to 80% of the we flush water can be made with less than 50 litres storage. However, the collection of rainwater in addition to greywater in a single store reuse system offers little improvement in water saving efficiency. Small volume domestic water reuse systems lend themselves to application in the urban housing environment and therefore offer potential in the move towards a more sustainable city. © 1999 IAWQ Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved


Greywater; rainwater; reuse; sustainability; water saving efficiency


For a sustainable urban future, society must move towards the goal of efficient and appropriate water use. Reuse of domestic greywater and rainwater is a step in this direction, imparting a degree of responsibility to the individual regarding their personal utilisation of water. The concept of domestic water reuse is not new. Previously, social and economic factors have prevented its further development and integration within the traditional urban water system. However, developments in technology and a discernible change in attitude towards water reuse from industry, government and the public suggests that the full potential of greywater and rainwater water reuse may well be realised in the foreseeable future.

Greywater reuse systems

In the developed global community it is Japan, USA and Australia who maintain the highest profile in greywater reuse (Mustow et al., 1997). Other countries involved in active greywater research and application include Canada, the UK, Germany and Sweden (Waller et al., 1996; Nolde et al., 1995; Fittschen



A. DIXON et al.

and Niemczynowicz, 1997). The city of Tokyo in Japan benefits from having many of its office buildings, apartment blocks and municipal buildings incorporate wastewater reuse for WC flush water (Asano et ai, 1996). Greywater reuse has also gained a degree of acceptance in the USA and Australia, evident in the Califomia Plumbing Code and in the Australian general guidelines for domestic greywater reuse (Mustow et al., 1997). Yet, where the Japanese reuse initiative is driven by the demands of a high population density and small land space, the US and Australian initiatives are a direct response to drought conditions and the unregulated uptake of domestic greywater reuse for garden irrigation. It seems that certain greywater reuse initiatives are not focused directly upon attaining a more sustainable future, rather they are a short term reaction to a water resource problem. Nevertheless, the benefits of greywater reuse are common to both issues and comprise an important step towards a more sustainable urban water management system. It is likely that such a water management system will eventually lead to substantial changes in lifestyle, particularly if the use of water as a transport medium for our domestic waste is reduced or eliminated (Niemczynowicz, 1995). Unfortunately, at present in the UK, at the domestic level, little regard is paid to either minimising water consumption or utilising appropriate quality water for appropriate purposes. Considering the per capita water usage in other European cities it is obvious that this problem is not restricted to the UK, e.g. Zurich, 450 l/person/day and Copenhagen, 250 l/person/day (Stanner and Bordeau, 1995). In contrast to this apparently profligate water consumption it has been suggested that we could substantially reduce residential water consumption to as little as 36 l/person/day (Goodland and Rockefeller, 1996). Reuse of greywater and rainwater is certainly one means of approaching this goal.

Greywater and rainwater in combination

Rainwater reuse has a long history world-wide and is applied in many modern societies as a valuable water resource for irrigation, drinking and more recently for providing water for the WC and laundry (Konig, 1994). However, the use of rainwater in combination with domestic greywater has not been extensively researched. The combination of greywater and rainwater would seem to offer much potential in terms of balancing service water quantity and quality. Although rainwater is generally of a high quality (COD <200 mg/I) the stochastic nature of rainfall events implies a large storage capacity is necessary for its optimum use (Fewkes, 1996). Conversely, domestic greywater often has a higher pollutant load (up to 5000 mg/I COD) but is produced according to more regular patterns which are simpler to exploit for the purposes of domestic reuse. In the UK, there is a debate concerning the appropriate quality of greywater and stored rainwater for reuse which is centred around the health risk associated with microbial contamination of the water. Key issues are the degree of contamination, exposure and changes in water quality during storage (Mustow et al., 1997). The latter may be minimised by reducing the re-use system storage capacity, thus reducing residence time, although there is a balance to be made with the consequent reduced water saving potential of such systems. The computer model described later in this paper enables rational system design to be identified in terms of water saving efficiency, storage size and individual appliance discharge.

Patterns of water a~~liance usaie and reuse

If we consider the water demand or wastewater production of individual domestic water appliances, it would appear that the WC demand could be satisfied by re-using water from personal washing and laundry (Edwards and Martin, 1995). This is the principle of proprietary systems currently available in the UK (Stephenson, 1997; Burton, 1997) and is well understood. However, there is little evidence of a thorough analysis of individual domestic water appliances and factors influencing reuse such as occupancy and storage capacity. For example previous work suggests that the relationship between usage patterns for different appliances such as the wash basin (Wb) and the WC are very close (Butler, 1993). It is one aim of this ongoing project (UK EPSRC grant GR/K63450) to analyse individual appliance usage patterns and to see if on-site reuse of greywater and rainwater in a single domestic dwelling is viable. This is being carried out principally by developing a validated computer model which takes into account the main variables and processes. Ultimately, the model will include water quality processes and thus allow the designer of a water reuse system to explore both the trade-oft's between the important variables (such as storage volume and treatment type) and the interaction between system users (residents) and their water using appliances.

Water saving potential of domestic water reuse systems


Water reuse model

The volumetric model described here represents a single storage tank system col!ecting greywater from the bath (Bth), shower (Sh), wash basin (Wb), washing machine (Wm) to supply the toilet (WC) (Figure 1). The model may also simulate the col!ection of rainwater run-off from a specified roof area in place of greywater or in combination with greywater. In the absence of a long term domestic water appliance data appliance set, events and discharge volumes are generated for each model run by the Monte Carlo method of estimation (Fewkes and Ferris, 1982). The basis for these estimates is data from a smal!-scale study of domestic water appliance usage (Butler, 1993). Cumulative frequency distributions were derived from this data for each hour of the day and for occupancy (1 to 5 occupants). In this way the model may be used to estimate model performance over an extended period whilst retaining the statistical characteristics of the original data set. A one year hourly time-series of rainfal! data provides the rainfal! input to the model.

G,i - greywater appliance discharge
n - appliance (Bt, Sh, Wb, Wm)
LG~ Rt n - number of appliances
i= I R, - rainwater roof run-off
1 1 w, - waste overflow
Sma>< - maximum storage capacity
1 --I s, - volume in store
I~ )Wt 0, - output from store
Mt M, - mains supply make-up
SZ V, - WCdemand
s, L )Dt D, - demand (Dt = Vt)
Ot -time Figure 1. Single storage tank combined greywater and rainwater reuse system.

The model storage component aggregates the inputs and outputs in hourly time steps assuming a complete mix system and using a 'spill before yield' concept for simultaneous supply and demand. If the storage capacity is exceeded then the excess is discharged to waste. If there is insufficient water in the store to meet the demand then the mains potable water supply makes up the difference (see Figure 2). Running the model therefore al!ows the performance of the system to be analysed. System performance is principal!y described by it's water saving efficiency (ET), which is a measure of how much potable water has been saved in comparison to the overal! demand of the WC only in this case as given in equation (1).


t= I

x 100 T = Run Duration (hrs)



t= I

By assuming a completely mixed system the model can trace the contribution of each appliance as it flows through the system. The proportion of total water saving efficiency that is contributed by each component, e-' is expressed in equation (2), where Oti is the fraction of the store output contributed by an individual component.



x 100

T = Run Duration (hrs) (2)


A. DIXON et al.

The value of model components such as occupancy, storage capacity and roof area may be varied to simulate a diverse range of operating conditions over both the short and long term,

Figure 2. Single storage tank reuse system model algorithm (Combined system).


Results from the program have been prepared to show the effect and importance of various parameters in the calculation of water saving efficiency of a single storage tank system. The sensitivity of system water saving efficiency to variations in key model components is demonstrated in figures 3-6. Each model run was 1 year (8760 hrs) in duration. Unless stated otherwise default values for parameters are; Wm = 651, we = 91, Occupancy = 4, Roof Area = 20m2• Key; Bth - Bath, Sh - Shower, Wb - Wash basin, Wm - Washing machine, we - Toilet, Occ - Occupants.


. w



-- --- -2Occ __ 3Occ


___ 10cc


_____ .40cc




100 150 Storage capacity (I)



Figure 3. Sensitivity of water saving efficiency of a combined greywater and rainwater reuse system to varying occupancy with increasing storage capacity.

Water saving potential of domestic water reuse systems


100 r-~'--------------------------~R~w~~~y~~='O~ms~ql

r GW Only

RW Only [<10 m.q]


eo _-

... ,~---

;jf ."

RW Only PD m.q]



o L-~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~

o 200 <100 eoo 800 1000 1200 1<100 leOO 1800 2000

StOl'lgo ClPIOIty Q)

Figure 4.The effect of increasing storage capacity on the water saving efficiency of a greywater only reuse system and also a rainwater only re-use system with 20, 40 and 60 m2 effective roof area.




- - - 8:11h

-- -Shr


- - - - - ·WM

__________________ -------------.-RW----__,30


_,-,"_ ,,_:;-:--:-_ =-=-- ~- ::7'_ ~- =-=-- ~_::--r_ =-=-=-- 20 -Gi


,,'" ~- ..... - - - - - - - - - - ... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --









StOnog. ClpldtyQ)

Figure 5. Effect of increasing storage capacity upon the individual appliance efficiency as a proportion of system efficiency (equation 2) for a combined greywater and rainwater re-use system.


__ - WS (101 store) ____ .Ws(201 st .... )

-----W8 + RW (10 I store)

-- - WB + RW (20 I store)


- -- ...




WC Flush \AIIumo Q)

Figure 6. Sensitivity of efficiency to variation in we flush volume for selected input components and storage capacities of 10 and 20 litres.


A. DIXON et af.

Table 1. Daily per capita volume use according to appliance (survey data)

Occupants Number of houses in category Total Bth Sh Wb we Wm
N (I) (I) (I) (I) (I) (I)
6 126.4 20.8 47.0 19.9 30.9 7.8
2 9 126.0 20.9 29.9 26.6 39.7 8.9
3 3 74.6 10.8 6.9 18.2 30.1 8.6
4 7 81.3 11.4 17.3 12.2 25.8 14.5
5 3 61.3 5.1 8.9 13.0 23.5 10.8
StQlai!:; liiz;ini and Q!<!<l.Uliln!<)C It has been reported elsewhere (Edwards and Martin, 1995) that increasing occupancy is linked with decreasing per capita consumption. This result is broadly confirmed by the data in table 1. The same trend is observed in the variation of water saving efficiency with occupancy and storage volume for a combined greywater and rainwater system (Figure 3). According to model results, a household with an occupancy of just I person can achieve a water saving efficiency of 80% with a storage capacity of about 30 litres, a household of occupancy of 2 requires 40 litres, anda household of 4 needs approximately 50 litres for the same efficiency. A minimum of 90% water saving efficiency occurs with a storage capacity in the range 100-200 litres for all occupancies, which compares to the range 150-250 litres predicted in another study (Fewkes, 1982). Significantly, a greywater only system also achieves a water saving efficiency of at least 90% with a storage capacity in the range 100 to 200 litres (see Figure 4). Fewkes and Ferris (1982) suggested a 300 litre store to achieve this level of efficiency using only discharges from the bath and washing machine. Our results indicate that addition of rainwater to a greywater-only system (collecting water from the bath, shower, wash basin and washing machine) brings no real benefit in terms of water saving efficiency. However, the model ofFewkes and Ferris (1982) indicated modest improvements in water saving efficiency with the added inclusion of rainwater to a system collecting greywater from the bath and washing machine only.

In contrast to the high savings of greywater and combined greywater and rainwater reuse systems a rainwater-only system with a storage capacity of300 litres storage only achieves a water saving efficiency in the range of 30-60% depending on size of the effective roof area (see Figure 4) which is comparable with results of a previous 12 month pilot study ofa rainwater reuse system (Fewkes, 1996).

Perhaps the most significant result is that the rate of increase in water saving efficiency with increasing storage volume is greatest in the range 0 to 100 litres for greywater-only systems and combined systems and o to 200 litres for rainwater-only systems. Furthermore, increases in storage volume above these ranges do not return significant increases in water saving efficiency (see Figures 3 and 4).

The cQntributiQn Qfindividual iPl1!jilnce discbarlleli

Further analysis of the relationship between water saving efficiency and storage volume in the range 0-300 litres indicates that there are significant water savings to be made even at small volumes «100 litres). Furthermore, it is clear that the contribution of individual supply components also varies with storage volume. This is best shown by plotting the proportion of total water saving efficiency that is contributed by each component, (equation 2) against an increasing storage capacity (Figure 5). The proportion of water for reuse provided by wash basin discharge is greater than other supply components for the entire range of storage volumes. Moreover, this proportion, eT Wb is at its peak at very small storage volumes as is the rainwater roof run-off component. This trend demonstrated by the wash basin and rainwater supply components is largely a function of the similarities in frequency of use between those components and the demand component ofWC use.

Water saving potential of domestic water reuse systems Small stora~e volume systems


In the selection of individual appliance discharges, by comparing supply and demand frequency distributions it is possible to minimise storage volume whilst maintaining significant water saving efficiency. It is noted that for small storage volumes it is the wash basin and rainwater components that form the greatest proportion of water for reuse. The small storage volumes represented in Figure 6 are more comparable to typical WC cistern sizes than the proprietary greywater and rainwater devices currently available in the UK. In fact they more closely represent the hand-basin toilet that is popular in Japan and recognised in the Australian guidelines for domestic water reuse. The water saving efficiency of combined and separate small volume greywater and rainwater reuse systems is plotted for various volumes of WC flush. This shows the potential for integrating greywater and rainwater reuse with other demand management measures such as low flush toilets. Results indicate that just over 20% of the demand incurred by a 9 litre WC can be made with as little as 10 litre storage. This is boosted to over 30% if a 20 litre storage tank is used (Figure 6). Figure 6 also demonstrates that though collection of rainwater together with wash basin water does improve water saving efficiency, the improvement may not be sufficient to warrant the extra infrastructure that rainwater collection potentially involves based upon volumetric considerations only.

Application of domestic water reuse in urban housin~

Domestic water reuse utilising small storage volumes «50 litres) would seem to offer greater potential than the larger volume reuse systems (>150 litres) that are currently available in the UK. The reduced scale leads to a reduction in cost and space requirement whilst maintaining reasonable savings in WC flush water. For example a system with a store capacity of 10-20 litres yields a water saving of 20-30% of WC demand, thus lending itself to a low cost, low technology engineering solution. In addition, small volume re-use systems tend to have a reduced mean residence time which reduces the possibility of deleterious water quality that can result from extended storage. The application of small storage volume domestic reuse for WC flushing would maintain their water saving value if integrated with other demand management measures such as low flush toilets. In addition, systems such as these would lend themselves to retrofit in existing housing stock and have widespread application.


Greywater and rainwater reuse system water saving efficiency is linked to occupancy; houses of a high occupancy require a larger storage tank than lower occupancy houses if the same water saving efficiency is to be achieved.

In terms of water saving efficiency there is little advantage in extending a single store greywater only re-use system to also collect rainwater.

The rate of increase in water saving efficiency of greywater and combined systems with increasing storage volume is greatest at lower volumes «100 I) and beyond this range there are reduced gains in efficiency.

At lower storage volumes it is the wash basin and rainwater roof run-off components that are the most significant contributors to the water reuse system.

Small though worthwhile water savings (20-30% of WC flush), can be made with small storage volume reuse systems (10-20 1) supplied by the wash basin only.

Small volume, appliance specific reuse has the benefits of; integration with other demand management options, low technology, low space requirement, suitability for retrofit in existing housing stock.

Further Work

The model is being developed to simulate water quality and treatment processes. The model will be validated using a laboratory based test rig. Analysis of the model sensitivity to changes in model time-step, particularly for small volume reuse systems is being carried out.


A. DIXON et al.


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