09.06.12Alan Harris

Fifty Shades of Grey…Water

There are three types of people in the world. Those who read the book and admit it. Those who read the book and don't admit it. Those who have not yet read the book.

Just to set the record straight…

1.   Yes, I did read the books (all 3 of them)
2.   No, you will not be forced to submit to using gray water or sign a contract (but a permit may be required)
3.   Using gray water does not have to be painful and there is a sub-culture of people from all walks of life who practice using gray water on a daily basis

I am somewhat of an expert, after all my middle name is Gray. It is a family name and please notice it is spelled with an “a” and not an “e”. The Grey’s were horse thieves and rumor has it they also wasted water. It seems the modern day line of of the Grey’s have reached a new level of eccentric. The honest, water conserving side of the family uses an “a” to spell Gray.

My first thought for this post was to co-write it with fellow blogger Martha Golea. Unfortunately Martha, whose middle name is not Steele or Anastasia just bit her lip, rolled her eyes and let me know she has not read “the book” nor was it really her style…of literature. A quick check on Pinterest let me know she also wasn’t exactly into Tess of the D’Urbervilles either.

Despite what you may have heard, the book has a sub plot of water which is mentioned 49 times (thanks Kindle for PC). They also practice one of the more fun aspects of water conservation…bathing together.

Christian Grey also has a keen interest in sustainable power and using science to help feed the world. For those of you who might have read the book and forgot or doubt this fact, please let me remind you of the commencement speech at the WSU graduation, “Our aim is to develop viable and ecologically sustainable methods of farming for third world countries; our ultimate goal is to help eradicate hunger and poverty across the globe.”(1)

Energy and food are definitely two very important aspects for both developed and developing nations. However, both energy and food need water, which despite being free is a limited resource. Using gray water is one of the many tools we have in the Shed of Water Conservation.

Gray water, or “Showers to Flowers” is different than “Toilet to Tap”. Both are “Certified Pre Owned Water ™”, but gray water excludes water from the toilet which is referred to a black water. Specifically gray water comes from washing machines, showers, lavatory sinks, etc. and requires minimal or no filtration prior to non-potable use (no drinking or bathing). If, during a drought, you ever caught the water from the shower in a bucket and used it to water plants you used gray water.

The use of gray water can get a little tricky. If you are building a new house it is a little easier than retrofitting an older house, but it still can be done.

Here are a few gray water hard limits:

  • Don’t store for more than can be used in 24 hours unless you plan on treating it
  • Keep out of ground water
  • Keep away from wells
  • Don’t use water from the dishwasher (too many salts)

There are many other pros and cons in regards to the use of gray water, but we’ll save those for the next installment. Oh, did I forget to mention this kinky bloggering is a trilogy?


A. Gray Harris

CEO, Gray Water Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

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(1)    James, E L (2011-05-25). Fifty Shades of Grey (p. 172). The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine and speaker at WaterSmart Innovations Conference.




  1. Thursday, 1:42 Lauren Hanson

    Alan, I’m intrigued. Can’t wait for the next post in the trilogy!!

  2. Thursday, 3:03 K. Francis Duke

    You have raised the bar as it relates to the linking of water management issues to works of literature; such as it is.

    Granted Jane Austen is no E. L. James, but who am I to judge?

  3. Thursday, 5:23 Alan Harris

    Lauren – thanks for the comment. I am currently in the research stage for the necy two.
    K.F. – perhaps the bar was lowered for this literary comparison, but the EL is bit more current than Jane.
    Also thanks to all the people who sent me emails today. Your secret love of the original literary work of art is safe with me.

  4. Friday, 9:44 Martha Golea

    It’s a good thing you trademarked “Certified Pre Owned Water” before anyone else got a hold of the term. That will probably pay off in the next few years.
    I always love learning more about gray water, even if I don’t understand all the references…
    While you and Kelly are discussing literature-inspired blog posts, let’s not forget Kelly’s “In Praise of Frank Herbert”, about the sci-fi classic, Dune. One of the most captivating books I’ve ever read. But hey, I’m a nerd.

  5. Thursday, 7:41 Julie Bramlett

    Alan- You crack me up! This is awesome.! A whole new side of you that I never knew. And yes….I read all 3 books and was in mourning for several weeks afterwards because I miss them and their adventures! Great job Alan!
    Julie Bramlett

  6. Thursday, 8:05 Alan Harris

    Julie – thanks for joining me as one of the few who publicly admit to reading the books. I have received more emails from this post than comments, but I welcome both. Still researching for the 2nd installment and trying to figure out how to work in Charlie Tango to the post.

  7. Friday, 12:16 Linda Forde

    I finally carved out some time to dig into the recent editions of Valley Crest Takes On (which typically get dropped from my inbox into a ‘Read This’ sub-folder as I am trying to meet project deadlines). DON’T ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME!!
    Alan, your posts/blogs (particularly this one on 50 Shades of Gray Water) are engaging, funny, and informative. Well done. Thanks for making the rest of us feel somewhat inadequate! 🙂
    Looking forward to you putting your twitchy palm to work on the second and third installments of the trilogy…

  8. Friday, 1:04 Alan Harris

    Linda: thanks for you kind and creative comments. I too am guilty of filing blogs and newsletters to read later. I am glad you are better than me at getting to your folder. I have classes next week on gray water so I am hoping to get some good blog fodder for my twitching palm. ~Laters 😉

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