I'm trying to optimise for outdoor greywater reuse, on a tiny (approx 50 sqm) urban Sydney garden, and transform it into something beautiful and / or edible.
I'm married to a couldn't-be-less-permie-minded architect, so need small projects that he can gradually acclimatise to.
He's so far OK with me bucketing out showerwater (carried through the house) from a plugged bathtub and several worm farms around the garden, but not thrilled about my compost bin (ugly).
Plumbing options could extend to bringing water from the washing machine or bathtub outdoors, at the highest point in the garden.
I'd love to have as clean water as an end product, ideally good enough to replenish some 50 L fish bowls manually.
I have on hand
- an old spa bathtub,
- a second hand fibreglass pond (less than 80cm x 60cm x 30cm) and
- a sandy-loam garden with a decent, well-defined fall.
There's not enough permanent vegetation yet for a branched drain or mulch basin. I'll be back here when that changes for any suggestions.
The simplest idea I've found seems to be a bathroom bathtub to reedbed-bathtub water transfer, with planting for visual screening, and siphoning of the post-reedbed water into the pond.
Can I improve on this if I'm solving for quality rather than simplicity (e.g. emergency potable water source, noting that further treatment would be required?)
I've found some studies suggesting I can plant more ornamental macrophytes - Cannas, Irises, Strelitzia. Any other experience with that?
This is me just taking baby steps. All ideas welcome.
I've read quite a bit about grey water, mostly materials from Art Ludwig, and his wonderful book and website Oasis Design. I am not constrained as you are so I just do the simplest type of greywater straight into joining a little irrigation channel to my trees. I have a composting toilet, so all my waste water including the kitchen sink goes out to the trees, on the surface. At the school I work at, we've done that for 25 years and the willows and poplars love it, and I think the fruit trees do, too. When it's a small population using the water system, the greywater is fairly inoffensive right on the surface and then there's nothing to get clogged. A simple coarse wood-chip filter helps it not have visible bits of food in it, and does not need cleaning out the way gravel and sand would, because it decomposes and flows out, so you just add a bit more once in a while.
Unfortunately, I think the goal of filtering greywater to potable quality is a bit difficult. According to Art Ludwig, that requires extensive filtration, which inevitably gets clogged and is unpleasant to clean out. Even to get greywater clean enough to store for toilet flushing involves nasty filtration. I think a better goal might be to use all your greywater for your landscape, and use rainwater collection for possible emergency potable backup. (I know rainwater might be ...unimaginable... to you at the moment, and the next rain you get will be smoke-flavoured, but eventually it will be clear again!)
I have a sister in California, in a small urban lot -- with an architect husband, no less! Both are very eco-minded. They installed some kind of subsurface greywater irrigation system for part of their urban garden. And they have a large rainwater tank under the patio that is used for flushing toilets and maybe laundry, so the only city water in is for the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink has too much stuff in it and would clog the underground irrigation so it discharges to the sewer.
They hired a local greywater installation company, I think. I'd be surprised if Sydney doesn't have that kind of thing. A professional installation might make it aesthetically acceptable to your husband.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Rebecca Norman wrote:
I know rainwater might be ...unimaginable... to you at the moment, and the next rain you get will be smoke-flavoured, but eventually it will be clear again!
You were so right, and the world turned again, and now lack of rain across a continent and ash raining on one's laundry for 2000km up and down the coast seems almost a...quaint...and provincial kind of problem.
Rebecca Norman, I believe you are in a cold climate? Do you have problems with the outlet pipe freezing in the winter? Are the trees you are watering ok with getting water in the winter? How to screen the pipe so critters (snakes here in Oklahahoma) don't crawl in?!