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Planning Plumbing

 
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What rules of thumb would there be for sizing water storage and waste systems in areas like Arkansas or Oklahoma?  In Arkansas, I know I would need/want overkill on the blackwater processing in a septic system with all that limestone in the soil.  I would still want to destroy virtually all pathogens in Oklahoma, but I think I would be less likely to contaminate the groundwater there.  

Roof catchment in either location.  If in Arkansas, establish a reed bed bioremediation in swales, with artificial waterfalls connecting them.  Test swale runoff water for contaminants such as leaked car fluids from road "upsteam" along the watershed.  As it is colonized by single cell microorganisms and invertebrates, they should naturally start to adapt to deal with and remove those contaminants.  Mechanical filters such as diverters to prevent the first inch or so of rainfall from the roof from getting in the drinking cisterns, plus sand or fine mesh cloth filters to minimize as many contaminants as possible.  Minimize "food" for pathogens and energy so if a stray water borne pathogen does get in it has trouble propagating in that environment.  

Bioremediation.  If I want to use bioremediation to filter out metabolized pharmaceuticals, do I just start exposing normal breakdown microbes to them?   I am thinking harvest methane/butane from blackwater, then an aerobic bioremediation tank with bacteria, yeasts, etc., then a worm bed with any detritivores including isopods I can get to colonize, before either running through a greywater system or to appropriate beds.  I suspect I could get testing through a nearby University until I was confident my system was eliminating enough pathogens for blackwater sludge to be safe to use and any runoff would be drinking quality or close enough to be safe.  

Drinking/cooking water from sinks would go through a greywater filtration system with mechanical and biological filters before feeding cleaning systems, then pass through the greywater system
again as needed or feed aquaponic or garden beds as needed.  Ideally, the greywater would be drinking quality at the end of filtration.   I would want to reuse as much grey and blackwater as possible and get the rest as clean as possible before it leaves the property.

The main variables would be 2 adults, 1 grade school age child, and several companion animals.  All three of us are (or in my case should be) on appropriate long term medication.  
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Avg USA household indoor water usage = 160gallon per day or 1,120 per week (2.6people)


A 2,000 sqft roof with 1inch of rain per week (52inch/year) will just about cover your weekly water usage (2000sqft*1inch*0.623gal = 1,246gallon per week)
A 12,000gallon tank will give you a 10 week buffer, before you have pay a water truck to fill your water tank.
That is if there is a drought, and you started it with the tank just about overflowing. A 1st flush devices the sends away the 1st 2 gallon of water during a rain event sounds good.

I like the idea of having a separate greywater and blackwater system. Your grew water system is 3/4 of your indoor water usage, so the system doesn't have to be huge.
Instead of a reedbed we can use fungi instead. Fill a 250gallon IBC tote with woodchip/biochar/straw/etc, have the greywater flow over, thus filtered.
Lets add worms for aeration and good microbes, insulation so it doesn't shock the worms in the winter, fungi that kills the bad microbes, and finally a mulch pit-drain field.





 
Chris Bright
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S Bengi wrote:Avg USA household indoor water usage = 160gallon per day or 1,120 per week (2.6people)


A 2,000 sqft roof with 1inch of rain per week (52inch/year) will just about cover your weekly water usage (2000sqft*1inch*0.623gal = 1,246gallon per week)
A 12,000gallon tank will give you a 10 week buffer, before you have pay a water truck to fill your water tank.
That is if there is a drought, and you started it with the tank just about overflowing. A 1st flush devices the sends away the 1st 2 gallon of water during a rain event sounds good.

I like the idea of having a separate greywater and blackwater system. Your grew water system is 3/4 of your indoor water usage, so the system doesn't have to be huge.
Instead of a reedbed we can use fungi instead. Fill a 250gallon IBC tote with woodchip/biochar/straw/etc, have the greywater flow over, thus filtered.
Lets add worms for aeration and good microbes, insulation so it doesn't shock the worms in the winter, fungi that kills the bad microbes, and finally a mulch pit-drain field.



Thank you for your help.  One cubic foot of space is about 7.5 gallons of water, calculate from there for 12,000 gallons.  

If I can get access to the property in Arkansas that a relative currently owns, I would be looking at a tiny house for summers until the little one is grown up.  I would probably start with about 1/5th of the roof area you are suggesting for weekly water usage.  Then, how much water usage reduction could I manage without sacrificing comfort, cleanliness standards and such?  And how much drinking quality water and greywater could I reclaim and use in greywater usages such as a washing machine?  Could I shower in greywater?  Greywater can definitely be used for flush toilets.  

I am definitely thinking of multiple methods, or what my computer programmer spouse calls defense in depth.  It sounds like we are having similar thoughts on blackwater, I am just thinking of separate systems and it if I understand you correctly, you are thinking throw everything in the same one.  Worms, roly poly isopods, microorganisms, yeasts, maybe even mushrooms.  Both states can freeze in winter, so would definitely need insulation for worms to keep working in the coldest months.  

Drought would be more likely in Oklahoma than northern Arkansas near the Missouri border with all the forests, between water vapor in the air from all those trees and cooler air from altitude in the Ozark range.  
 
S Bengi
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http://www.vermicompostingtoilets.net/design-construction/

I would use two of these tanks. One for grey water and another for black water. These IBC tote hold about 300gallon and the toilet uses about 30gallon a day and it drains completely. The grey water thank will see 3 times that volume of water but that water is alot cleaner.

So to conserve water, instead of baths or showers, I would clean my body with a rag, similar to how one would clean a baby. It uses alot less water. I would probaby use a no-flush composting tiolet/outhouse/etc. You could always wash at a laundrymat in the city.  I wouldn't use the grey water to shower. You don't want any microbe making it into your lungs. I might use it to wash laundry or toilet flushing, but I would not reuse it in my faucet. If you do store the filtered grey water you will have to add fish and some type of airstone or aeration device, that is probably not a waterfall.
 
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Water saving in your case.
- With a small home you will be able to ensure there are no leaks
- Use a composting toilet, no water
- showers, have short showers, I find 3 minute are easily managed.

So with this scheme you have reduced consumption by at least 36%.

I would encourage you to till go with a tank.

BUT what about freezing, does that occur where you are?
 
Chris Bright
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John C Daley wrote:Water saving in your case.
- With a small home you will be able to ensure there are no leaks
- Use a composting toilet, no water
- showers, have short showers, I find 3 minute are easily managed.

So with this scheme you have reduced consumption by at least 36%.

I would encourage you to till go with a tank.

BUT what about freezing, does that occur where you are?



I believe that even in the deepest freeze areas, it is just the top foot or so of soil in Oklahoma.  I would have to do some research on the Mountain Home area of Arkansas.    Buried or insulated pipes outside, plenty of thermal mass in walls to prevent freezing inside.  

Historically, I feel like I can consider fixing plumbing in the house and have it get worse before I touch a tool.  Leak free plumbing would definitely a skill I would have to work on.  

Japanese style bath, with water that stays clean, either shower or rag and bucket followed by a nice soak in the clean water in the tub.  Depending on how off-grid it was, the washing machine might be a 5gal bucket and plunger with drilled holes.  

Worms do appreciate the moist substrate from flush toilets, and greywater can be used in toilets.  A through flow biogas plant, if I designed one, would also benefit from sludge/slurry blackwater draining through instead of dry solid waste.  I am also concerned I would forget or put off emptying a water-free composting toilet as needed.  

Minimized number of pumps, most gravity fed, a vertical pipe or two and pump water to top of pipe or pipes to have a pressurized water system.  Would I need vent stacks?  Assume code requires even if application might not.  
 
Chris Bright
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S Bengi wrote:


http://www.vermicompostingtoilets.net/design-construction/

I would use two of these tanks. One for grey water and another for black water. These IBC tote hold about 300gallon and the toilet uses about 30gallon a day and it drains completely. The grey water thank will see 3 times that volume of water but that water is alot cleaner.

So to conserve water, instead of baths or showers, I would clean my body with a rag, similar to how one would clean a baby. It uses alot less water. I would probaby use a no-flush composting tiolet/outhouse/etc. You could always wash at a laundrymat in the city.  I wouldn't use the grey water to shower. You don't want any microbe making it into your lungs. I might use it to wash laundry or toilet flushing, but I would not reuse it in my faucet. If you do store the filtered grey water you will have to add fish and some type of airstone or aeration device, that is probably not a waterfall.



I wondered if there was a gotcha to showering with greywater that wasn't filtered pretty much drinking water clean.  That layering of gravel with straw or other compostable substrate for worms, roly poly isopods and other detritivores seems like a good step, I would just want to get it broken down quite a bit further before putting blackwater waste on garden beds, whether ornamental or food production.  
 
S Bengi
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Sending filtered water to a pool/pond/tub/etc and then going for a swim/soak/etc would be fine. Most likely better than going for a swim in a urban river/beach. Problems start to surface when you turn the droplets of water into a mist. These droplets that are filled with "good microbes" will then make it's way into your lungs and setup shop, ultimately getting you sick. Even worse if those droplets are filled with bad microbes and pharmaceutical (some metabolites other are reconstituted). So for me it is okay water tree crops, wash clothes in, and to take a bath (bucket+rag), but not to mist creating shower.
 
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S Bengi wrote:Avg USA household indoor water usage = 160gallon per day or 1,120 per week (2.6people)




wow! this year we've been about 2.5 people (2 people full time 1 person for 6 months) and we use (including light irrigation) 60gallons per day. we have NO water saving strategies. normal flushing toilet, washing machine dishwasher etc etc. And looking at statistics I can see that we're pretty much average for the country. (that average american usagae would cost us $1800 per year)
 
S Bengi
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The number goes up to 300gallon once outside lawn watering is included.
https://www.epa.gov/watersense/how-we-use-water
 
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