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Cochise County Septic/Composting

 
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Hi everyone!
I am in the process of purchasing some land in Cochise County to build a strawbale-ish home.  I have been talking with various county officials but hoping to get more clarity from someone here!

I plan on collecting rain water (with the occasional water haul if necessary) and plan to use a composting toilet.  I’ve learned recently that because Arizona classifies your dish water as black water you apparently still need a septic system installed on your property.  I’m trying to figure out if there is any way around this or if there is some sort of tiny septic system that can be used for this purpose.  I’d rather not have to spend $5-6k on a septic that we don’t really need.  I’d like to reuse my shower and sink water by filtering and watering plants anyways.

Any help/guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Kadin
 
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Welcome to Permies,

I would go to whatever county dept handles the inspections and ask them directly.  Approach them with the attitude that you need their help.  
 
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You need to be realistic, the community wants a cleaner environment and that is why  black water systems are required.
When you say

I’d rather not have to spend $5-6k on a septic that we don’t really need


it runs counter to the communities expectations.

Having people arrive in pristine landscapes and then trash it with their occupation has been a problem.
So in fact the environment you want to live in, needs the septic to keep it as pristine as possible.

There may be alternatives since dish water volumes are low compared to showers, but the food and grease content is high and that is the issue.
Treating a small amount of black water is difficult, because of the low volumes.
So far I have not found anything to help you.


Issues with Grey or Black water

A technical paper

Designing-and-Installing-On-Site-Wastewater-Systems-

Page 157 may help you
 
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If a location requires a septic system, and does not have an "alternative methods" process, I've found that it is best to put in a septic system to satisfy the authorities. You'll be on record as having an "approved system" onsite.

You can install this system yourself, in most cases ... we installed ours for around $2500, whereas the cost to have it installed (at the time) was around $5000.

Once installed, then you can do your own thing with greywater and blackwater (responsibly, of course) ... there are numerous solutions for greywater, and humanure and/or your composting toilets for the blackwater side, among other more esoteric solutions.

However, the septic system is always there for fallback if neighbors complain, authorities intervene for whatever reason, and so on.
 
Kadin Goldberg
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Thanks everyone.

I have since learned that there is a 55 gallon septic that some people are installing but after talking with the environmental health department it seems like this may not be legit.

I was told that you CAN install a 42+ gallon tank for dishwater if you are composting BUT As per the grey water rules you have to have enough space in your septic to handle grey water if it can’t be reused (as per the state).  So, the rules are sort of contradictory.  I was then told that a 1000 gallon septic is the smallest possible when I asked to clarify. Ah well.

Just thought I’d share if anyone was wondering.

 
John C Daley
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I dont agree its contradictory.

dishwater if you are composting


This fact is the difference, if minimal food goes down the sink to the septic, the load on that septic is vastly reduced.
Septic tanks should be seen as 'settlement' tanks, where the solids [ food ] are captured and eventually pumped out before the tank is blocked.
 
Kadin Goldberg
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John C Daley wrote:I dont agree its contradictory.

dishwater if you are composting


This fact is the difference, if minimal food goes down the sink to the septic, the load on that septic is vastly reduced.
Septic tanks should be seen as 'settlement' tanks, where the solids [ food ] are captured and eventually pumped out before the tank is blocked.



I don’t agree either and it is contradictory but that is the current law as confusing and contradictory as it is.
 
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