My partner and I are in the process of sorting out the details of a house we're going to build in south-east NSW, Australia. The biggest problem we've found so far is greywater systems - the Council hardly batted an eyelid when we described earthbag walls, but are very reluctant to talk greywater, citing concerns about the risk to public health (you'd think the risk of running out of water would also concern them, but apparently not).
After many lengthy conversations we're good to go with mulch pits for bathroom/laundry, but running out of options for the kitchen that meet our conditions of being nature-friendly, cheap, and able to be built/substantially repaired by us. After a lot of searching I found a manufactured system from Ecoflo - NatureClear GWS10. However, at over $1000 I can't help thinking that an old bathtub carefully filled with layers of mulch and worms would be just as effective for a tenth of the cost, and easier to fix/expand/update over time.
I've found quite a few people in Australia (1, 2, 3) who seem to have done DIY versions of this, but I haven't found anyone who actually got Council approval for it. Sidestepping the council on the quiet isn't an option for us as we need development approval for the rest of the house anyway, plus if no one bothers then their opinion on grey water systems will never change. It has also occurred to us that it's worth staying in their good books as we'll likely want approval for various other things over the next 10-20 years.
So my question is - does anyone know of a similar grey water system anywhere in Australia that has been Council approved? Or, does anyone have tips for the approvals process?
Also keep in mind that Kitchen water only makes up around five percent of total water consumed in the average home. You are most likely going to have a grill outside, why not just put a sink outside too and do a good amount of your cooking out there.
Another option might be to set up all plumbing with connections to divert to greywater systems later, but let everything flow to approved systems now. This has at least two immediate benefits:
1. plumbing meets code right now, approvals in hand; all wastewater flows in the approved direction. having just connections in place, with switching valves, allows time to find the perfect greywater system, approvals of which sometimes get in the way of construction schedules. when the right system gets found, just tie it into the switching valve, and flip over to it.
2. connections are there to fall back to primary wastewater systems, if anything needs work on greywater systems. great for extended troubleshooting ... a connection doesn't imply that a greywater system is in use, just that you are planning for the future ...
Well done Carmelo. Lismore Council has fabulous details about reed beds. We have found that if one council has done the work, others are happy to accept. I agree with S. that you need a grease trap. Our grease trap saves more than we would have thought. We put the grease (soap scum, hair and food bits) into the compost and it breaks down by chook scratching.
https://www.eco-reed.com.au/examples.html We have a split system where the toilets (Black water) go into one pit and the rest (Grey water) goes into another pit. The grey water has a grease trap and needs a clean out about twice per year. We built the reed bed ourselves.
The local council insisted on an absorption trench but with sodic clay soils, it clogged in a few years and stunk. The reed bed discharges into a 1 Cu M underground sump that has casurina near it, with the result that there is no stink, no lying water and an amazing thing is that the Kangaroos are eating the grass around the same area. This makes me think that the grass is sweet and not toxic. Casurinas (River Sheoak) are fire resistant so form part of our fire mitigation plan and winter prevailing wind break.
Have a look at this site. https://www.wormfarm.com.au/ These guys install worm composting sewerage systems. They have done a lot of work with councils.
Good Luck with it all. If you want to chat further about this, just PM me.
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Commercial grease traps are there for contractors that do not want to put the time and labor into building one. So try drawing a design matching the dimensions of the commercial one that would be required and submit that as part of the plan mentioning that these are the dimensions of the approved trap.