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Podcast 077 - Review of Creating an Oasis with Grey Water Part 2  RSS feed

 
steward
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Summary

Paul Wheaton and Kelly Ware read chapter 2 of Art Ludwig's "Create an Oasis with Greywater." It starts with clarifying what your goals are, and what your workable situation is. Paul and Kelly talk about how a working leach field is important if you have a septic system. Saving water is important both for those downstream and because you have to deal with it when you're done with it.

They mention the question of what to do if the shit hits the fan as septic pumps have an electric component. Kelly mentions pharmaceuticals in the water. Paul stopped using soap and shampoo 6 months ago, and he feels no different. Kelly uses apple cider vinegar, which is good for greywater systems. Kelly had a pipe system at an old house where her kitchen water and disposal went right outside.

Paul shares a story of a pipe that goes to a drainfield. The anaerobic organic matter turned to a glee layer, which water can't pass through. He and his friend rebuilt the system properly at 18 inches below with river rock on top for good aeration. 18 inches was down enough that there were organisms to take care of it, even in the wintertime. Paul talks about having a proper fear of poop. Paul doesn't like regulations rooted in somebody making money. As Art writes, "legal requirements may push you to do really impractical things." Paul mentions his video on how washing dishes by hand can use less water than even the most efficient dishwasher. Paul comments on sterilizing dishes.

Paul mentions the order of "reduce, reuse, recycle" and how it starts with reducing water consumption. He and Kelly talk about front loading washers and short showers. They explain what the percolation rate to soil (perc) is, and how rocks have slow or no perc. Sand has high perc, and gravel more so, yet very fast perc can contaminate groundwater unless plants with a good root system help. The book tells how to measure perc rate. Paul prefers not to irrigate as it dilutes the flavor of food and causes plant dependency. He would rather build hugelkultur beds. They talk about there being poop bits in greywater and the importance that the greywater empties beneath mulch. Paul prefers that it not be used to water food beds. Paul also has concerns with using grey water when plants are dormant.

Relevant Threads

Podcast 076 - Reviewing Creating an Oasis Part 1
Thoughts on Art Ludwig
Water Storage Question



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pollinator
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Are there any intentions of continuing to review this book?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I cannot remember if they finished or not. Did you check in the later podcasts?
 
Chad Sentman
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I believe it was only these two, plus the podcast interviews with Art Ludwig which are only available for purchase.

I can say that I got Sepp Holzer's Permaculture as well as Gaia's Garden because of the podcast reviews of them, so if this series continues, I imagine it would boost sales of this book, if from no one else than myself. If Paul gets a kickback for those sales, all the better.

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Hmm, would you mind suggesting that podcast in the tinkering forum?
 
Chad Sentman
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Sure.
 
pollinator
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I love the part about "wasting less water is still better than a graywater-irrigation system"--placing functions above elements.

Here are two water-saving hacks, one I started using, the other is theoretical currently:

use water for washing veggies again to wash people (for showering).  This is waht they do in the village in China, my housemate says.  Poof, instant gray water system, but there's no physical system! just an invisible system!  no permits needed!

#2
I make yogurt, the water in the hot box is in big mason jars.  You take the water from one of those and use it to cool the milk after it's heated, to get it from 190 back down to 110 degrees.  (Pour it into a larger pot that you put the milk pot in).  Then, take that same water, now hot, and put it back into one of the jars.  

Then that same water can be used once more to soak the empty yogurt jar when it's done, if you need to...the yogurt seems to gunk on...



Also I wonder if the greenhouse for processing waste could be instead a TEFA--or maybe a textured earth willow all year?  and isn't the poop something that can create a certain amount of heat as it decomposes anyway? or maybe that's only if you add sawdust.  just musing.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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I've been feeling something's missing here, Red Hat sense of that...and facts I ran across recently (totally fascinating), or at least Wikipedia facts I assume to be true facts: the human body has almost no waste systems.  It really is a master permaculturist.  The liver, which breaks down toxins, secretes what? bile--a useful element that breaks down fats.  (It also creates 400 useful enzymes, by the way, and stores enough glucose for a person to survive for months or something...hm...definitely not serving only one function).  So that is that thing.  And then the lymph system doesn't seem to have any exit valve either--pathogens in the body get killed by the white blood cells, then they go into the lymph system and somehow stuff (maybe including the matter from those dead bodies of pathogens?) goes right back into the blood stream--there are connections back and forth _throughout_ the lymph system.  

In other words, the lymph system would never pass inspect.  It has its outputs into the "sanitary water" pipes and inputs from the "unsanitary water" pipes!

So, if that can work, shouldn't a body be able to deal with a little poop?

That got me thinking that maybe the answer would involve fish or maybe chickens.  Can fish get sick from e. coli?

In Dagara land, in a tale Malidoma tells, the princess who's identy has been stolen is forced to eat dog food--and Malidoma explains that dog food means human poop.  They also say "poop heals," and it is essential to certain rituals.

Also, how did the Chinese deal with poop for so long?

Since we're talking about gray water here and not poop solely how have the less engineered systems in cold climates worked?  

I appreciate that this is not a topic to deal with cavalierly--you want to be as conservative as possible in areas that could cause serious illnes, injury, or death, and move more quickly in areas that don't.  But longterm, I'm thinking there's got to be an easier way than piping all the shower water and putting it into a greenhouse.  

Maybe the sand bucket idea should be tested out with a microscope!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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And this is the competition, in my neck of the woods--Deer Island Waste Management sewage treatment plant (from their website--I find the egg-shaped digesters particularly fascinating. unclear how much energy it consumes, it produces 3 megawatts, that would be 72 megawatt hours per day assuming it runs all night).


Pumping

Wastewater "influent" from MWRA customer communities arrives at the plant through four underground tunnels. Pumps then lift the influent about 150 feet to the head of the plant. There are three main pump stations. The North System is served by the North Main Pump Station and the Winthrop Terminal Headworks, containing ten 3,500 hp pumps and six 600 hp pumps. The capacity for the North System is 910 mgd. The Lydia Goodhue Pump Station for the South System can handle an additional 360 mgd of flow, and contains eight 1,250 hp pumps. The pumping capacity at the new Deer Island plant has dramatically increased the volume of wastewater that can be taken into the plant from the conveyance tunnels. This reduces back-ups and overflows throughout the system when wet weather causes peaking of system flows.

Primary Treatment

After pumping, flows pass through grit chambers that remove grit for disposal in an off-island landfill. Next, flows are routed to primary treatment clarifiers that remove about half of the pollutants brought to the plant in typical wastewater (50-60% of total suspended solids and up to 50% of pathogens and toxic contaminants are removed). In this step, gravity separates sludge and scum from the wastewater. The plant uses 48 primary clarifiers that are 186 feet long by 41 feet wide by 24 feet deep. The clarifiers have a "stacked" settling surface at mid-depth to double the settling capacity of the tanks that are squeezed into the tight space confines of Deer Island.

Secondary Treatment

Secondary treatment mixers, reactors and clarifiers remove non-settleable solids through biological and gravity treatment. The biological process is a pure oxygen-activated sludge system, using microorganisms to consume organic matter that remains in the wastewater flow. Secondary treatment raises the level of pollution removal to over 85%.

Three "batteries" of secondary treatment were completed in 1997, 1998 and 2001, respectively. Over one hundred tons of pure oxygen are manufactured each day at Deer Island's cryogenic facility to support the biological treatment process. The Deer Island Treatment Plant generates 130 - 220 tons of pure oxygen per day to support the secondary treatment process.

Sludge Digestion

Sludge and scum from primary treatment are thickened in gravity thickeners. Sludge and scum from secondary treatment are thickened in centrifuges. Polymer is added in the secondary thickening process to increase its efficiency. Digestion then occurs in 12 distinctive egg-shaped anaerobic digesters, each 90 feet in diameter and approximately 130 feet tall. Mimicking the stomach's natural digestion process, microorganisms naturally present in the sludge work to break sludge and scum down into methane gas, carbon dioxide, solid organic byproducts, and water. Digestion significantly reduces sludge quantity. The byproduct of the digestion process is 70 percent methane gas, which is captured and piped to boilers that generate enough heat to warm the buildings on the site as well as for the heat-dependent treatment processes. The steam from those boilers is sent through a steam turbine generator (STG) producing an average of approximately 3 megawatts of electricity. Digested sludge leaves Deer Island is transported through the Inter-Island Tunnel to MWRA's pelletizing facility at Fore River, where it is further processed into a fertilizer product.

Odor Control

Air scrubbers and carbon adsorbers remove odors and volatile organic compounds from treatment process "off-gases". Odor control is used for primary and secondary treatment process facilities, as well as the sludge processing, plant pumping, and grit removal facilities. Odor control performance is constantly monitored and is governed by a special DEP air quality permit.

Disinfection

After passing through primary and secondary treatment, wastewater is disinfected with sodium hypochlorite to kill bacteria. There are two disinfection basins, each approximately 500 feet long with a capacity of 4 million gallons, in which the effluent is mixed with sodium hypochlorite. Finally, sodium bisulfite is added to dechlorinate the water, so that chlorine levels in the ultimate discharge will not threaten marine organisms. After disinfection and dechlorination, the effluent is ready to be discharged.
 
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