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Grey water usage

Karl Teceno


Joined: Mar 16, 2010
Posts: 91
Location: Portland Maine
Okay, apparently no one has an opinion or can help me with this... 40 reads and no responses.

I live in town on a small lot of land. I have a rain water collection system that takes care of my veggies. I am contemplating using the grey water for my wife's flower beds and some blueberries, cranberries. But what about the lawn? I have a small patch of lawn, maybe 40' x 60' that I am thinking of using the greywater to irrigate. I have 4 dogs that love to run on this patch and some times use the clover to fed the rabbits so I am concerned about them.
If I constuct some type of biological filter w/ bark mulch or Irises/Cat nine tails, would this make it clean enough? Or if I contructed some type of sub-surface irragation method, would that work? I really hate to see the greywater go to waste down the sewer drain. Any thoughts? Suggestions?

Karl
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
AFAIK, either of those would work. My very limited understanding of codes says a mulch pit is the standard method. My general impression is that the codes are very conservative, and following them will keep you abundantly safe.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Karl Teceno


Joined: Mar 16, 2010
Posts: 91
Location: Portland Maine
Thanks Joel!
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
You're welcome!

I've read only a little about the topic, but two sources that seem good are:

Greywater Action

and

Oasis Design
timby McCoy


Joined: Jun 23, 2010
Posts: 71
There have been several groups in Texas that have used black water as well as gray water. They use a similar system where there are no local hook-ups (such as woodland area parks). These systems have garnered rave reviews of utilizing this water into the environment without a costlier man made system (septic tanks).
Old hammy


Joined: Jun 27, 2010
Posts: 59
Location: NW Ontario
I don't know much on the subject but have always heard that if you are going to use greywater, never let it collect or pool in any part of the system. Pooled greywater turns to blackwater pretty quick.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Old hammy wrote:
I don't know much on the subject but have always heard that if you are going to use greywater, never let it collect or pool in any part of the system. Pooled greywater turns to blackwater pretty quick.


This was my experience when I had my greywater pipe on a surge tank.  The tank outlet clogged with lint (the greywater is from the laundry) and the water in the tank became black and putrid.  Now I use the recommendations of  Art Ludwig.  http://oasisdesign.net/greywater/misinfo/index.htm


Idle dreamer

Walk Hatfield


Joined: Jun 29, 2010
Posts: 79
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
That's a very informative link!

I have a neighbor who's about to set up a simple greywater system to feed her greenhouse plants. One thing I haven't seen much about is the contents of that water. The results you'll have with greywater depend so much on what soaps you use, what else goes down the drain, whether you use rainwater, etc. In her case, even using rainwater and VERY little soap, she's still going to use two sand filtration pre-filters (one to use while the other dries out) and a "dosing tank" that fills, then siphons out to one or the other sand bed.  From there she's installing drip tubing into the greenhouse beds.

Bob.
hillbillyarchitect McCoy


Joined: Nov 02, 2010
Posts: 33
yes, commercial detergents etc will make your greywater much harder to clean. there is a scientist at Woods Hole that he perfected aerobic treatment at small scale.-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_treatment_system
Erica Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 682
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
    
  78
Thanks for the links.
Looking at a very closed-loop greywater system for a boat.
I would like to be able to use the greywater as often as possible. Fresh water is limited at sea.
The ultimate would be a compact, low-maintenance, multi-use system that can re-cycle greywater into a nearly-clean fresh water that is suitable for re-filtering or distillation, reducing the load on the water-generation equipment. Or just let the plants evaporate it as moisture in the onboard solarium, bringing in fresh seawater through reverse-osmosis filters to maintain the miniature weather cycle. We could also channel any condensation inside the solarium as a solar-distillery for fresh water.

Would LOVE any recommendations for housekeeping practices that make greywater more plant-friendly, or compact filtration/use options.
- biodegradable soaps, shampoos? Recommended brands? Anybody using Dr. Bronner's, Simple Green, Earth Friendly Products Dishmate?
- greywater hydroponics on edible plants? Herbs? Container plants? Anybody growing food in mobile platform such as a houseboat, gypsy wagon, or RV?
- very compact options for 'filtration', or multi-function filtration plants that can also be used for fiber / fuel? (Assuming the purpose here is some non-edible plants to cycle down any nasty bacteria...
- Mycorrhizal soap-eating filtration options?
etc.

We already plant to eliminate bleach, and Ernie just proposed a no-TP head for better blackwater equipment longevity. I countered with a specialty-TP-optional commissary, where guests could 'invest' in their own $4 roll of non-macerator-clogging TP for personal use. This is an environment where input chemicals can be fairly rigorously controlled, but many kinds of foods will probably end up in the greywater dish-water. We are also contemplating where to use salt-water for washing and bathing, vs. where to maintain fresh water cycling for plants and greywater use. If the greywater is valuable enough, then we would take steps not to mix it with brackish runoff from saltwater taps.

Maybe this is a pipe-dream, and I will end up with a frequently-replaced window-basil and a lot of bartered coconuts.
But it would be an awesome showcase project, as we hope to use the boat in appropriate-technology disaster prevention and coastal disaster relief.

I'd love to get a system going that could serve as a 'mother' to give others a seed-stock of filtration sand for water filters, or useful plants and mycorrhiza for hydroponic food/water filtration and de-toxification of contaminated water. So something that relies more heavily on universal coastal resources like sand or bark, vs. commercial plastics, would be ideal.

Appreciate any thoughts,

Thanks,
Erica W


Play with nature, make nifty stuff:
www.ErnieAndErica.info
Rusty Bowman


Joined: May 30, 2009
Posts: 117
Location: Idaho
    
    1
Erica Wisner wrote:Thanks for the links.

Would LOVE any recommendations for housekeeping practices that make greywater more plant-friendly, or compact filtration/use options.
- biodegradable soaps, shampoos? Recommended brands? Anybody using Dr. Bronner's, Simple Green, Earth Friendly Products Dishmate?


Yes on Dr. Bronners. That and similar veggie oil soaps is all I use on person. For dishwater, we use Seventh Generation and for laundry, ECOS. For toothpaste, it's fluoride free Tom's Natural or straight baking soda. After several yrs, I have yet to see any problems with the plants we water with this greywater. I will say that our greywater gets moved around quite a bit though...and is supplemented with canal water. I only have a dozen or so varying plants that rely on just greywater. They have been fine as well.

For general cleaning, we generally just use veggie oil or dishwashing soap.

Art Ludwig has a good list of laundry detergents, good and bad.


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P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
It is ridiculously difficult to use graywater to water lawns, according to An Oasis with Graywater. The only thing that can overcome that difficulty is, apparently, money. Otherwise it all turns to stink and slime in no time. Graywater is best used for trees and permanent landscaping.

The most superior method I've ever heard for filtering graywater is reed beds. At the end of the settling ponds and reed beds you're left with a magnificent duck and koi pond, and water you can safely consider watering even lettuce with.
 
 
subject: Grey water usage
 
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