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EU rules on humanure and greywater

 
master pollinator
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Marcus's topic on greywater processing, using rainwater, and humanure being illegal in Arkansaw (huh?!) got me wondering about the EU situation.  In Bulgaria, where I intend to homestead, the villages are full of older people living much the same way their grandparents and great-grandparents did. Very few harvest rainwater (historically rainfall has been well spread throughout the year and there's often abndant spring and well water available, though climate change may affect that), and many seem to use old style pit latrines.

I want to set up a well managed water and waste system to use the available water wisely and avoid contaminating groundwater. But I wonder if that is legal, and if as a newcomer updating an old house I'll be expected to go down the septic tank route, which I totally do not want! I'm sure it very much depends on the location and the mayor, but I'd like to be prepared by knowing what the regulations allow and down't allow.

I've done a search but haven't been able to find anything on what the actual EU regulations are for rainwater harvesting, greywater management, and small-scale human waste management. Does anyone know?
 
pollinator
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Bulgaria has a very poor water supply and sewage treatment plants compared with many countries.
Only since 2007 when it entered the EU has anything been done to improve things.
Some of the main polluters of surface water include domestic water from the urban sewerage system in the big settlements and industrial wastewater,
which is discharged untreated into the rivers. Nitrates are the basic pollutants of underground water in all river basins.
I cannot yet find much information about what happens in the older villages.
But I am guessing not much.

Water supply systems do not cover large areas of the country.
So I guess the application of good practise would be worthwhile.
That would include no discharge to the ground of any waste water [ grey and black water] from your property.
This can be achieved with evaporation ponds, reed beds for liquids,
Perhaps a methane producer could be created to deal with the solids from the toilets.


 
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The EU is fortunately not in a position do define these things. Individual countries do.
I can tell you that in Germany for example, we needed a flushing toilet. (Laws also vary between parts of Germany (a federation).)
But nothing says you can't have additional composting toilets (or if something says that, it is not enforced).

Here it is a mess. Toilets are build at the lower part of the property next to the fence… and whoever lives below that gets the fun.
We just had four months of rain, so any evaporation pond would need to be designed properly to deal with that. I put the new composting toilet on a high-spot with a massive roof-overhang.
 
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Usually, these are defined on a more local level using guidelines developed by the main government system.

In the US that would mean the guidelines are mandated by the county to enforce state laws.

If I were in your position, Jane, I would wait until I determined where I was going to buy a property then ask on the appropriate local level.
 
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IN general in Europe the rules are country wide. however I am not aware of any that are EU rules, and even if such exist it's quite possible that your selected country vetoed it when it joined. Here in Denmark we've just had a thread on it and rainwater may be used for washing machines, toilets and private gardens, but only that collected from certain types of roofs and for the first two only in properly installed (by a registered plumber) systems. It is apparently not allowed in some council areas to collect at all, but either it's allowed everywhere I have been or it is just not an enforced rule.
Septic tanks here are emptied and inspected once a year by the council and you will get a fine if anything is wrong with it after a first warning, however certain filtration systems are allowed instead of a tank, I don't know the exact rules on them however.
 
Anne Miller
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I just remembered my experience when we bought our homestead.  

I had a question about the septic tank so I asked at the Courthouse and was referred to the local doctor who was also the coroner (aka the Health Department, too.)
 
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Here in France they want everybody has a septic system. Expensive jobs they want local entrepeneurs to do to boost the economy. Especially for foreigners they like to push this. Locals postpone endlessly. Rumors of fines float about but i never heard them applied.
The rules change constantly. It’s a total scam and a mess. They dig up half your garden and put it full of plastic rubbish. The installed systems reek and need ugly air exhausts to above the roof level. Some people need to shred the paper and waste and pump it all up towards a higher situated septic tank. Then a guest drops a condom in and the pump breaks. Hopeless. Dry systems worked for centuries. It’s modern hygiene fetishists enforcing this madness.

Lately the environment is a hype here and some inspectors are open to changes regarding grey water.
I work as a builder for quite some people and advice people to postpone. Just say you want to and you’re going to do it but you don’t have the money handy. Come with ideas for ecological solutions.
Tire them out and hope they forget about you and your money or that they just give up.

Speak very loud in bad English, pretend to be drunk all the time if you see the mayor coming ( that was a joke to make light of the situation)

 
Jane Mulberry
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Thank you to everyone who replied!
I suspect where I am buying the local process may be very similar to what Anne described! Or it could be "these are the rules and follow them to the letter". From what I hear, one never knows in Bulgaria. I bought a small piece of land (2000 m2 = almost 1/2 acre) with an old house on it without actually seeing the place, but the price is so low that if things don't work there, I can afford to walk away if I have to.
The seller tells me the mayor is very supportive and welcoming, but that could mean she expects incomers to upgrade houses to the typical Western standard, which would mean a septic tank! I really don't want to have to spend $$$ and rip up the yard to install a septic tank I have no intention of using. Or it could just mean that provided I shop locally, use local tradespeople, and offer to help with English lessons at the school, I will be welcome.
One plus is that this property is right at the edge of the village with fewer homes nearby, so I may not have to deal with contaminated waste water flowing from neighbour's homes, and may find siting my own waste management sites easier.
I think the best advice is to just wait and see and discuss this with the mayor when I meet her. I will keep looking to locate any regulations and research I can use if needed to argue my case for not having a septic tank.
 
Jane Mulberry
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LOL, Hugo. I didn't see your post when I wrote my last one. I like your approach! Hopefully I can get away with being the eccentric Englishwoman and the mayor will simply throw up her hands and say "What can you do with such people?" and stop trying to ensure that the rules are enforced.

It is a tragedy when at the same time countries want to make the environment a priority, they go about it by insisting people install huge amounts of plastic junk! And what happens to the pumped out waste from these systems? Ugh. I don't want to think!
 
John C Daley
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Can you send photos when you get to see it?
 
Jane Mulberry
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Sure, John! Not sure when, depends on Covid rules. And I am expecting the house and the land to both be in a sorry state needing plenty of repair work. I can post a couple of the photos the agent sent me. There are about 25 in total, but they're sure not to tell anything resembling the whole truth! These were taken in September. The house has stood empty for a while and the garden hasn't been maintained. There are grapevines, a large walnut tree, and other fruit trees I can't accurately identify. I think a apricot, and some sort of plum. Most Bulgarian village house will also have an apple, a cherry, and a pear, so they may be there somewhere, too! The area has hot summers and winters can go as low as -15C, though tend not to be quite that cold. Traditionally rainfall was spread evenly through the year but it seems with climate change summers are becoming drier - so rainwater harvesting and good water management will be a must. I don't think the property has a well, though municipal water supply is available.
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