Why can’t we just boil the water instead, my father inquired when I set about installing an RO purifier in our house. My answers were simple enough—it takes as much time and effort boiling water in large quantities, especially for two elderly people (my parents live by themselves, while I go back home for holidays), and the water in our neighbourhood tasted awful when boiled. In comparison, a water purifier seemed far more convenient.
A week or so after the installation, my father was sold on the investment. It was difficult to ignore that the water tasted sweeter, actually looked cleaner, did not leave murky sediments at the bottom of the bottles, and cut out the effort at boiling water entirely.
Despite the dramatic improvement, what turned out to be difficult to ignore was the amount of water that went to waste during the purification process.
An RO water purifier. Image source: Wikipedia
Why so much waste, one might wonder. Reverse Osmosis (RO) units filter impurities using a membrane technology, and in turn requires additional water to clean the filter. The water employed for the cleanup is discharged, and varies according to the model of the purification unit.
Reports have suggested that the waste water from RO purifiers, which are becoming a staple in every urban household, exceeds the amount of water that is actually purified by around three times. Imagine that: 3 litres of waste water for every litre of drinking water. The purification process is slow and gradual, and in the process an alarming amount of waste water that seeps out from the other pipe.
As attested by experts, this waste water is conventionally undrinkable. Due to the high content of total dissolved solids (TDS), the water becomes unsuitable for drinking, and is not recommending for bathing either. The water also tends to contain inorganic salts and organic matter in varying quantities that adds to its unusable quality.
Installation teams usually recommend setting up RO units over wash basins so that the water can trickle out. But even without consuming this water, there is a variety of areas in which you can make this water useful.
1. Keep it for your car wash
Giving your car a shower can take up to seven buckets of water—and more if you are being extravagant with your hose pipe. A 2016 report by a group of school students in Pune revealed that car washes could consumer up to 14 litres a day, and using a hose pipe would take the quantity up to an alarming 75 litres.
We agree with the Pune students when they said that washing cars everyday is unnecessary, and highly wasteful. Moreover, replacing your regular water supply with RO reject will offer an effective use for the water and it will do the clean-up job just fine.
2. Water your gardens
Image source: Wikipedia
For avid horticulturists, the water can be used to water your plants and keep your terrace garden blooming. Though the idea has its sceptics, there is a fair share of users who rely on this water for their plants. Particularly so in urban neighbourhoods where the TDS content in water tends to be lower.
It’s, however, prudent to check the quality of the water and its effect on all your plants. Try using the water on each variety for a few days to check. This will also give you an understanding of which plants may respond better to hard water.
You might also like: This Engineering Student Has Made a Portable Water Purifier. And It Costs Just Rs 20
3. Use it for household chores
There’s no doing away with washing our utensils or mopping the floor (once every few days, if not every day). Why not just simply store the waste water, as it flows out, in buckets or containers and keep around the sink to be used each time you do the dishes or clean your floors.
You can use it for daily laundry as well, but do keep in mind that delicate fabrics may not react well to the TDS content and other materials in the water.
4. Make it a staple for your washing machines
Image source: Facebook
Many households now prefer using washing machines to doing their laundry manually. Like in the case of water purifiers, it saves time and effort but also consumes a lot of water. Why not simply replace regular tap water with RO waste water (do keep the point about delicate fabrics in mind)?
Transferring large quantities of water to the washing machines can be strenuous. A Bengaluru apartment owner’s idea (picture above) went viral, when he posted images of his water purifier that was fixed right over a washing machine. Instead of draining away, the water poured directly into the machine and he claimed to have used this idea successfully for years.
5. Use it in your toilets
By popular consensus, taking a bath or exposing your hair to water reject is a no-no. But you can certainly use the water to flush your toilets and give your bathroom fixtures and faucet its periodical cleanup. Do keep a check on whether the water may cause discolouration on surfaces like porcelain.
We live in an age where droughts drive farmers to take extreme measures and the poorer sections of society, as well as many a building complex, think of all-day water supply as a privilege. Every drop counts, and these little measures can make a world of a difference.