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Greywater- from Laundry to Landscape

 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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Most permies lament watching the greywater from their bathtubs and showers, sinks and washing machines drain uselessly down the drain.  That's a LOT of wasted water that could be reused.

I was recently reading Art Ludwig's book Branched Drain Greywater Systems, which gives detailed information on do-it-yourself changes to your plumbing so you can run your greywater to your garden or landscaping. 

Art Ludwig is the King of Greywater, just in case you're not familiar with his name.

Looking at his website at http://oasisdesign.net
, I see that the info in that book has been included in his The NEW Create an Oasis with Greywater book.

Then I saw an article on his site titled "Laundry to Landscape Grey Water System" http://oasisdesign.net/greywater/laundry/index.php  which shows and tells you how to create a diversion from your washer drain hose to the outdoors.  The article has descriptive text and some good drawings.  It looks quite simple and cheap, and is suitable for existing homes and even rented properties.  It tells what you should do and not do to get the best use out of the system and not cause problems.

Ludwig's site also offers books and downloads on ecological design, rainwater harvesting and water storage, edible landscaping and bicycles.

If you don't have too much money to invest in books, some of these should be on that short list.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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The whole site is excellent.  I wish they still offered classes on all this stuff.

 
Leah Sattler
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excellent! now we need to get counties and states to allow them! I was pretty ticked off when looking into renovating our septic system at the old house. I figured the old one could probably hold up just fine for black water use only and I could simply install a grey water system  and pump it to water the garden , but I was told it was illegal! I can't believe that the county wouldn't back up a most simple water conservation method!
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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His greywater book is excellent and I think goes into some detail about legality.

 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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Yes, the legality thing kind of falls into a gray area.

For instance, California LAWS say you can't do it.  But there are classes in how to do it.

The basic idea is like the law that says you can only have three dogs on your property.  If you have five dogs, they're all well-mannered, you keep them home, they don't bark excessively and you clean up after them regularly so there's no smell, neither the neighbors nor the law really care if you have five dogs.

Greywater seems to be the same.  Do it right, don't trash the existing plumbing so you're producing a problem for the owner (if you're renting) or a future buyer.  Don't cause a health problem by creating a mosquito breeding area.  Don't create something that is smelly and obnoxious.  Don't let any of the water drain onto any neighbor's property.  Be discreet.  Be smart.

And don't blab to everyone you meet (like that anal-retentive city councilman) about what you're doing.  You can talk about it, but be selective -- don't try to change the minds of everyone you meet.

The secret seems to be VALVES.  You place a diverter valve so you have the choice of directing the greywater to a fruit tree basin or to the septic.  You get 45" of rain in winter?  Then you would probably want to send the shower water to the sewer, depending on what type of soil you have.  "Overload" is not a word you want associated with what you're doing.

Use some basic common sense.

Sue
 
Karen Briggs
Posts: 24
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Thanks Sue,

I have been thinking today of all the water that I use for laundry and wondering what/if there is someway that I could recycle the greywater from it.

Just peaked at the site. I think I am going to have fun looking around and gaining more knowledge.

 
Izzy Vale
Posts: 13
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If you use grey water to water your garden you can't wash diapers, as the waste matter will contaminate your crops. Just thought I'd throw that out there in case anyone stumbles on this thread and also uses cloth diapers, which seems likely on this forum.
 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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Actually, you can legally do a "Laundry to Landscape" greywater system in California....and with no permit. http://greywateraction.org/content/requirements-no-permit-systems-california (take a look around that site. Lots of excellent info.)

These are the easiest and least expensive greywater retrofits there are.

 
Jeremiah wales
Posts: 137
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As I read this. I think of when I was a Kid and when my friends mom would dump the soapy washing machine water. We would collect all the worms and go fishing.
I will be working on a water system in Northern Wisconsin. There is a lot of rainfall there and I plan on Catching the rainfall from the roof. I can not see running out of water.
I would consider using Grey water back into the Toilet tank and flushing it again.
But.. There comes the problem of the smell of Grey water, Even in a garden or Toilet. There is always an odor, even if I would pump it back into the toilet tank.
Has anyone thought about this. How do you get around this. Or does it work out?
 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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Jeremiah wales wrote: There is always an odor, even if I would pump it back into the toilet tank.
Has anyone thought about this. How do you get around this. Or does it work out?


Hi Jeremiah,

The only time I have noticed a smell coming from greywater is when it sat in a collection area, like a bucket. It goes fetid, fast! This is one of the reasons direct systems are recommended. The greywater goes straight to the ground...preferably in mulch basins. It's not even seen then, let alone smelled.

rusty
 
Glenn Underhill
Posts: 95
Location: NW Montana
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Jeremiah wales wrote:I would consider using Grey water back into the Toilet tank and flushing it again....


I have the Art Ludwig book. According to him, any greywater that sits in ANY kind of tank turns into blackwater quickly. I would not use it for flushing toilets.

I would use the rainwater for flushing.
 
Jeremiah wales
Posts: 137
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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your input on Grewater turning bad if you store it.
 
Mary Ann Asbill
Posts: 123
Location: Western North Carolina
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http://greywateraction.org/


Did you look at the Gray Water Action site yet? They have good ideas too.
 
tom grimley
Posts: 4
Location: Deer Lodge Park, California
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hello enthusiasts,
seeing as though i work in los angeles and was happy that the Department of Building and Safety actually issued an information bulletin delineating what types of graywater systems need permitted and which do not, including detail drawings and sample plot plans, i thought i would share it here. it is not dissimilar to oasis designs 'laundry to landscape' documentation and what i consider to be a giant step forward for a major metropolis like los angeles.
cheers,
tom
Filename: IB-P-PC2011-012Graywater.pdf
Description: LADBS graywater information bulletin
File size: 1838 Kbytes
[Download IB-P-PC2011-012Graywater.pdf] Download Attachment
 
Linda Sefcik
Posts: 72
Location: Central Oklahoma
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IMO --
spilling "grey water" directly and repeatedly around a living area is less than hygienic.
Also, I wouldn't include urine in this category.

I have seen fish pond filters made of shelves of lava rock that last for years.
I have seen wilderness water purification using grass, sand, and charcoal.
I have seen aeration of water that clarifies algae.

And so... I picture a system where water gets filtered...
through an aerating screen, then sand, then through lava rock or charcoal...
instead of directly going into a garden. It would require just two buckets.

Urine -- would be treated as human waste, not as "wash water"
These are examples:

and






 
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