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Hello. Thank you in advance for any help.

The kitchen sink garbage disposal broke and has been leaking. My husband put a bucket underneath and dumps the contents into the ground right under the grapefruit tree. The tree is well established and has a lot of fruit. I am worried that the fruit isn’t safe to eat.

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Hi, RainAZ

Can I assume you are from Arizona? Then it’s legal and not blackwater to use your kitchen water…

As for your question. This is not the best of practices and also not up to code. That being said, your fruit should not suffer from it. Quite the opposite. Don’t eat the fruit that fall on the ground though.

I would encourage you to have a look at the greywater part of this page. Namely, you might want to dump this water in a mulch basin.

Again, this might not be up to code.

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Yes, Arizona. You are also correct – the tree is thriving.

I wish I could say this was in an effort to conserve water. It’s unfortunately due to finances and pure laziness. The ex husband hasn’t fixed the disposal and the closest dirt to pour out the dirty water is under the poor grapefruit tree.

There will be a good yield this year but I’m worried about getting the kids sick from eating the fruit.

Won’t the bacteria from the food matter be in the fruit?

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Bacteria won’t travel into the tree and up into the fruit. The bacteria will be in the ground (and will turn into plant food as they are decomposed). You do want to avoid DIRECT CONTACT with the dirty water. Digging a shallow basin in the dripline of the tree (where the outer branches end) and dumping the water into the mulch will prevent pooling of water on the surface which will prevent exposure to puddles of the dirty water.

Keep in mind that any harmful bacteria (e.g. pathogens that could harm humans) in the water came from your kitchen and was most likely on your counter, on your hands, etc (think of washing a raw chicken in the sink). Having that bacteria in the garden dirt is much less dangerous than it being in your kitchen!

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