Queensland Minister ‘Greys’ Grey Water

The fern Microsorium musifolia clearly suffering from being watered exclusively on recycled waste water at ‘Bellis’.

Here’s a letter I’ve sent to the Hon. Craig Wallace, Qld Minister for Water:

Dear Minister,

Re: Media Release – ‘Greywater guide gives green tips for Queensland Gardeners’, 26.4.08.

A copy of your media release was forwarded to me from the office of Queensland Conservation.
I urge you to withdraw this publication before you mislead Queensland’s gardeners. I have been
growing productive and ornamental plants in Brisbane for nearly five years exclusively using
recycled waste water.

On page 5 of your publication, ‘Waterwise Queensland, gardening with grey water’ lists the
following plant categories as being allegedly intolerant of grey water:
1 Bougainvillea
2 Ferns
3 Citrus
4 Herbs
5 Vegetable seedlings

I have been growing the following in my Brisbane garden using recycled wastewater since

1 Bougainvillea:

  • Bougainvillea ‘Texas Dawn’
  • Bougainvillea ‘Hawaiian Gold’

Total: 2 taxa

2 Ferns:

  • Adiantum aethiopicum
  • Asplenium australasicum
  • Cyrtomium falcatum
  • Davallia feejeensis
  • Lygodium japonicum
  • Microsorium punctatum ‘Grandiceps’
  • Microsorium musifolia

Total: 7 taxa

3 Citrus:

  • Cumquat ‘Nagami’
  • Finger lime, Citrus australasica
  • Round lime, Citrus australis
  • Citrus x ‘Sydney hybrid’
  • Tahitian lime
  • Mandarin ‘Ellendale’
  • Lemon ‘Meyer’
  • Lemon ‘Villa Franca Variegata’
  • Dwarf Lemon ‘Lots-a-lemons’
  • Kaffir lime, Citrus hystrix

Total: 10 taxa

4 Herbs:

  • Basil
  • Cardamom
  • Chilli ‘Banana’
  • Chilli ‘Cayenne’
  • Garlic chives
  • Culinary ginger
  • Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus
  • East Indian lemongrass, Cymbopogon flexuosus
  • Nasturtium
  • Society garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Lesser galangal
  • Moroccan mint
  • Native ginger, Alpinia caerulea
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Four seasons herb, Plectranthus aromaticus
  • Peppermint-scented geranium, Pelargonium tomentosum
  • Golden marjoram
  • Chaplu, Piper sarmentosum
  • Chinese celery
  • Curry leaf

Total: 23 taxa

5 Vegetable seedlings:
I currently have the following winter vegetable seedlings germinating with and growing exclusively
on treated wastewater:

  • Radish ‘Long Scarlet’
  • Radish ‘White Icicle’
  • Radish ‘Salad Crunch’
  • Daikon ‘Long White’
  • Lettuce ‘First Fleet’
  • Pea ‘Alderman’
  • Pea ‘Delta Matilda’
  • Pea ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’
  • Pea ‘Dwarf Skinless’
  • Mizuna
  • Black mustard
  • Mustard ‘Osaka Purple’
  • Cabbage ‘Couve Tronchuda’
  • Cabbage ‘Women meet & gossip’
  • Silverbeet ‘Rainbow mixed’
  • Eggplant ‘Long Early Purple’
  • Potato ‘King Edward’
  • Tomato ‘Black Russian’
  • Tomato ‘Sweetbite’
  • Tomato ‘Tommy Toe’
  • Huauzontle, Chenopodium berlandieri
  • Kohl rabi ‘Purple Vienna’
  • Mangelwurzel, Beta vulgaris Crassa Group
  • Beetroot, McGregor’s Favourite’

Total: 24 taxa

Other established fruit, spice and vegetable plantings that are watered exclusively on
recycled waste water include:

  • Pigeon pea
  • Cassava
  • Pawpaw ‘Southern Red’
  • Pawpaw ‘Columbian Round’
  • Winged yam, Dioscorea alata
  • Aerial potato, Dioscorea bulbifera
  • Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia
  • Celery stem taro, Colocasia sp.
  • Arrowroot, Canna edulis
  • Sweet potato ‘Marguerite’
  • Hibiscus spinach, Hibiscus esculentus
  • Coffee ‘First Fleet’
  • Midyim, Austromyrtus dulcis
  • Dragonfruit, Hylocereus undatus
  • Coconut ‘Malay Dwarf’
  • Choko
  • Cinnamon
  • Monastery bamboo, Thyrsostachys siamensis
  • Oldham’s bamboo, Bambusa oldhamii
  • Pineapple ‘Queen’ aka ‘Rough pineapple’
  • Pineapple ‘Mareeba Sweet’
  • Pineapple ‘Spanish Red’
  • Dwarf pineapple, Ananas nanus
  • Variegated pineapple, Ananas bracteatus ‘Variegatus’
  • Pomegranate ‘Elcite’
  • Avocado ‘Hass’
  • Brazilian grape tree, Myricaria cauliflora
  • Sugar palm
  • Banana ‘Ladyfinger’
  • Banana ‘Ducasse’
  • Banana ‘Dwarf Ducasse’
  • Banana ‘Bluggoe’
  • Banana ‘Pisang Ceylan’
  • Banana ‘Java Blue’
  • Banana ‘Goldfinger’

Total: 35 taxa

Grand total: 101 taxa

As you can see I have one hundred and one thriving examples of why Queenslanders should
doubt your publication’s authenticity.

My home, ‘Bellis’, Brisbane’s sustainable house & garden, has been regularly reported on in local
media, including ‘The Courier Mail’, ‘Sunday Mail’, various Quest newspapers, ‘Subtropical
Horticulture’ magazine, as well as other publications including the ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.
My garden regularly appears on national television through which I have been sharing information
on the culture of ornamental and productive plants using recycled waste water for almost five

Our family of three have been growing 70% of our fresh food for nearly five years. Our vegetable
garden covers 400 square metres, yet we use just 350 litres of waste water a day. We haven’t
used a single litre of mains water for the past six months.

As a national organic gardening expert, curator, gardening reporter and executive member of
Queensland Conservation, our state’s peak conservation organisation, I think the team who wrote
this ill-informed publication need education, not the general gardening public.

Queensland deserves better. Your greywater publication is an embarrassment to your government.
I urge you to delete it from the web and to compost all hard copies.

I will be publishing this letter and your response to it on my website.

We’ll be opening our home as part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme on 17 – 18th May 2008. Feel free to drop by to see for yourself how simple, safe and effective it is to garden with waster water.

Yours sincerely,

Jerry Coleby-Williams Dip, Hort. (Kew), RHS, NEBSM, MAIH
Executive member, Queensland Conservation
Director, Seed Savers’ Foundation
Member, Australian Institute of Horticulture

Copy to:
* Queensland Conservation
* The Australian Institute of Horticulture
*Australian Horticulture magazine
*The Editor, The Organic Gardener magazine
*Spencer Howson, ABC Radio, Brisbane


Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
The Honourable Craig Wallace, 26/04/2008

Natural Resources and Water Minister Craig Wallace today released a new guide to help Queensland gardeners use greywater.

The guide gives dos and don’ts for using greywater, lists plants that tolerate greywater and those that don’t and information about maintaining soil quality.

Mr Wallace said the average Australian generated 95 litres of greywater each day, making greywater a good option for keeping gardens and lawns green, especially when water restrictions apply.

“Queensland is a state of keen gardeners – we have more than our share of good green thumbs,” Mr Wallace said.

“Good gardeners know the importance of water and greywater is a great way to save this precious resource – but it must be used responsibly,” he said.

“Using greywater is important because it saves our precious mains water, especially in times of drought.”

Waterwise Queensland: Gardening with greywater is produced by the Department of Natural Resources and Water.

There are two types of greywater – untreated and treated. Untreated grey water is the water direct from showers, the bathroom wash basins and the laundry. However, if the home owner has a grey water treatment system professionally installed on site, this water can be treated and has a greater range of uses.

Important facts contained in the guide are:
· Untreated grey water can only be used on lawns and gardens.
· Treated grey water can be used on lawns, gardens, washing walls, footpaths and vehicles, along with toilet flushing and even recycled back to the laundry.
· Common Queensland garden plants that tolerate greywater are: gardenia, Bird of Paradise, melaleuca, dietes, callistemon, conifers and hibiscus.
· Common plants that are not tolerant of greywater are: grevillea, bougainvillea, camellias, lavender, herbs, ferns, citrus, azaleas and vegetables seedlings.

The guide also has information about turf species that are tolerant of greywater and species that are not.

Mr Wallace said the State Government is offering a rebate of up to $500 for greywater systems.
“So I encourage home owners to consider installing these water-saving products,” he said.

Information about rebates can be obtained at http://www.nrw.qld.gov.au/water.

Copies of Waterwise Queensland: Gardening with greywater at available online at http://www.nrw.qld.gov.au/waterwise