Water Journal : Water Journal May 2012
water MAY 2012 87 water recycling practices such as using greywater to water vegetables/fruits/herbs that were to be eaten without cooking, storing greywater for longer than 24 hours or reusing kitchen water. Awareness of the specific content of these guidelines was not assessed in the survey as it was felt that this might influence some respondents to give answers that matched the recommendations in the guidelines rather than reflecting their actual greywater use practices. Further investigation of householder familiarity with guideline content should be undertaken to establish whether householders are, in fact, cognisant of the content of guidelines and nonetheless ignore them, or whether they are aware of the existence of guidelines but not of their content. Both of these possibilities have policy implications and would necessitate either better communication of the rationale for recommended practices and/or improved promotion and dissemination of the guidelines themselves. Possible avenues of future research include extending this study to re-contact householders to ascertain their familiarity with the content of EPAV guidelines or to survey another set of households (including non-users of greywater) about the existence and content of existing guidelines. Limitations All survey results must be interpreted in relation to the characteristics of respondents to determine whether results are able to be generalised beyond the survey population. The survey in the first instance targeted an area likely to have higher greywater use (households with gardens); hence, results are not able to be extrapolated to all of Melbourne metropolitan households. As for any voluntary survey, the respondents are likely to contain an over-representation of those who are interested in the topic and, therefore, felt motivated to respond. Both users and non-users of greywater were eligible to respond to the survey; but it is probable that non-users felt less motivated to do so. The majority of those who responded to the survey had last used greywater in 2011 or 2010. Those who had used greywater further in the past, but then ceased to use it, may have had less interest in responding to a survey on this topic, and thus may be under- represented among the respondents. However, taking available information into consideration, in terms of household characteristics and greywater use behaviour, the survey respondents are believed to be largely representative of Melbourne households with gardens, which have used greywater in recent years -- the number of persons per respondent household was not significantly different from that in the target study area or the Melbourne metropolitan area (Table 1) and there was no clear trend in response rates relative to socioeconomic status. Conclusion Survey findings provide an insight into both the drivers for, and barriers to, household use of greywater and highlight that use of this alternative water source is likely to continue and increase, particularly during times of drought. Use of alternative water sources must not present unacceptable health or environmental risks; hence, it is important that relevant interventions are in place to ensure that greywater is used safely and sustainably. One such intervention is provision of guidelines. While there are relevant guidelines in the Victorian jurisdiction and almost half of greywater-using households were aware of their existence, this did not always result in household compliance with them. Further investigation of householder familiarity with guideline content should be undertaken to establish whether householders are aware of the content of guidelines yet ignore them (for practical or other reasons), or whether they are aware of the existence of guidelines but not of their content. Both current users and non- users of household greywater should also be surveyed about their reasons for use/ non-use of greywater as well as guideline awareness. Gathered information would assist not only in determining the barriers to guideline compliance and how guideline dissemination might be improved, but would also allow for better prediction of tap water savings associated with greywater use and design of integrated household water systems. Acknowledgements This research was funded by the Smart Water Fund Victoria and Water Quality Research Australia. The project title used for communication with potential participants was 'Understanding greywater use around the home', and ethical approval was obtained from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (Project Number CF10/1163 -- 2010000621). Only selected information is presented in this paper. The Full Report (Project 72M-7079) may be requested from the Smart Water Fund (www.smartwater.com.au) in July this year. Participation of Melbourne householders in this study is gratefully acknowledged. The Authors Dr Martha Sinclair (email: martha.sinclair@ monash.edu) and Dr Joanne O'Toole (email joanne. firstname.lastname@example.org) are microbiologists and Senior Research Fellows in the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. Associate Professor Karin Leder (email: karin.leder@ monash.edu) is an infectious disease physician and Head of Unit. Dr Manori Malawaraarachchi (email: mjayanetty@ gmail.com) completed a Public Health traineeship at Monash University and is currently located at the Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health, Colombo, Sri Lanka. References ABS, 2008: Census of Population and Housing: Basic Community Profiles, 2006. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth of Australia. ABS, 2010: Environmental Issues: Water use and conservation. Catalogue number 4602.0.55.003. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth of Australia. EPAV, 2008: Greywater use around the home, Publication 884.1. Environment Protection Authority Victoria. www.epa.vic.gov.au/water/ reuse/reuse.asp Greywater can be a useful alternative source for keeping the garden alive during drought.
Water Journal July 2012
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