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How do you convince the Municipalities on Grey Water?

 
John Gratrick
Posts: 55
Location: Mallorytown Zone 5a
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Hi All

I just bought my first house out in a rural area and had to get a septic tank survey thing done. I did it but what I really want to do is do a grey water leaching bed with a composting toilet, probably bucket system, but how can I go about convincing the powers that be that grey water is fine. I casually mentioned it to the guy and he didn't look very receptive.

I figure that if grey water going into a septic tank with black water etc, then leaching out into a field, I can save a step and several thousand $$ by doing it myself.

Any advice from people who have been there?
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 707
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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A septic system is really not very hygienic. Try to convince the guy and sell your system as something better. Never use words like bucket system (sounds primitive) Use nice professional drawings. And bring a friend with and ing. title (no worries if he does not know a thing, you must feed the information)
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1304
Location: Central New Jersey
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Research the subject. Find out what communities in your area have adopted grey water processing and the specs for their systems. Find out who the people were that got the changes made and contact them for advice on how they made it happen.

There is lots of work in this area being published, and you should be able to find some resources reasonably near where you are, anyplace where a septic system is being required.
 
John Gratrick
Posts: 55
Location: Mallorytown Zone 5a
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I should clarify. I talked to the inspector about the grey water field instead of septic. That is what he wasn't sold on. When he asked about waste, I said I wanted to put in one of those cook it up models (which I don't, too bulky).

I think their main concern was how high the water table is. Well that's not gonna change with a septic tank either so I personally don't see the difference. I think it's because there is no local person doing it so there is no info, which is because no one is allowed to do it.
 
Sean Banks
Posts: 153
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you don't most people keep it secret..........you made a mistake by mentioning such a system...now their just going to be suspicious
 
Chris Duke
Posts: 30
Location: Torrance, Ca
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I would start by checking with a local plumbing company to find out what code book they are using. Then research the code on grey water systems. The last code book here in California, is a international plumbing code now, and has grey water systems covered in it. So it should be doable almost anywhere these days. Even the UN has their group represented on the books cover. When I mention this to the guys down at the union hall who should know all about it, they have no clue what I'm talking about. Just ask the guys what book, and if it has gray water systems in it. That much they should know. You should be able to pull up the codes at the local library.
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Often, the problem is simply that the inspectors are not familiar with the systems, so they do everything in their powers to avoid them. What you need to do is to find the answers yourself, so that you can explain it properly to the inspector.

For starters, check out ONTARIO grey water leaching pits
This should prepare you for your next encounter with your inspector.

 
S Haze
Posts: 227
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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John,

You may want to consider just going with the flow so to speak and get what you'll probably be forced to do anyway. Unless you are highly motivated and informed will probably won't win this one and could waste a lot of time and energy that could go towards other projects you are passionate about.

I'm grappling with the same problem here however I was lucky enough to stumble upon a septic contractor who is really enthusiastic about building what's known as a constructed wetland system. There have been models built that have vastly outperformed the common mound systems usually required here, at least during the warm season. My impression after reading some studies is that they're still about as good as a mound in the winter too, especially if over-sized. This contractor also lets the owners with the proper skills and equipment help out greatly reducing the cost of installation.

So after getting my hopes up about this far superior design (no pump!) they were shattered once again after the local dude responsible for septic stuff did some checking and found out that going this route is financially out of reach due to red tape. They want an extra $10,000 or something just for a special permit, then specially licensed installers and inspectors meaning this guy who inspects every other system in the county is not qualified. Ditto with the installer/contractor. Uhggg!

This is a big problem since I have high hopes of someday doing agri-tourism here. In order to make that happen and actually get people to come to the middle of nowhere this place has to be incredibly, blow-your-mind-amazing and mounds, pumps, and pipes sticking out of the ground absolutely do not jive with this vision!

It is terribly wasteful to install a concrete tank big enough for someone to live in along with all the other stuff but it will probably be vastly cheaper in time and money to just go ahead and do it and improve it and re-purpose materials later.

Consider saving your time and money for the stuff that matters most, not that this is the least bit un-important, however it can be dealt with and improved upon later.
 
S Haze
Posts: 227
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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duck forest garden trees woodworking
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I should add though; Do some checking, don't just throw your hands up right away. You could find a good solution to your problem in your area if you talk to the right people.

Good Luck!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I think it is easier to get municipal areas on board with grey water, "You want to build something with your money so I don't have to treat your waste water but you will still pay me the same?" Once they get that, they are all over it.

Septic, on the other hand, is all your money so they want to stay with the old rules that are simple (for them).

 
Van Taylor
Posts: 18
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Sean Banks wrote:you don't most people keep it secret..........you made a mistake by mentioning such a system...now their just going to be suspicious

That about sizes it up. Since you already have a septic system, just set your system up and leave the septic in so you can re hook to it if ever needed. It is much easier to ask for forgiveness and hook it back up, then to get permission.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1304
Location: Central New Jersey
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As I understand it you are new to the area. You have had a survey or septic placement but not yet had it installed. Are you planning to build there?
You might want to consider whether you want to start down a path of avoiding compliance with local laws if you are new to the area and intending to build .

So, there is looking into ways of convincing them to change local regulations. And there is heading down the path of evasion.

An informed choice for you to consider.
 
John Gratrick
Posts: 55
Location: Mallorytown Zone 5a
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Thanks all for the responses.

I have built in the area but no septic tank has been installed. I had to get a septic survey done to even get a permit to have the house built. Now that winter is here and I can't do anything I've been pricing out septic system installs and its over 10,000! I'm thinking thats a lot for a box to hold crap whereas a greywater system is more inline with ease of installation, cheaper, which is a big plus and faster since I can do it all over a weekend.

Its more my town is a small rural town that likes to live to do things based on the rules from the 60's.

I could put it in secret like but I don't want to do all that then have an inspector out and have to take the thing out. If I have to go septic them I'll go septic and just forget about it.

But I have a few months so I'll research and present my findings before I ok the septic.
 
bob day
Posts: 338
Location: Central Virginia USA
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i went the route of submission, play by the rules, installed the system myself, backhoes are such fun to rent, and a 4-5k$ system became about 2k including the extra use i made of the backhoe for other projects-(wish i had known about contour swales back then)- once the inspectors had gone i simply disconnected the outlet, added some plumbing and septic tank became a cistern--if i had it to do over at this site i would have installed a bigger tank, 1000 gallons can go fast, and a 2k or more tank underground with lines that never freeze is a wonderful asset.
 
Theresa McCuaig
Posts: 30
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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John, you've probably constructed something already, but if not, is Art Ludwig's free Laundry to Landscape system of any use to you? http://oasisdesign.net/greywater/laundry/
 
Chris Duke
Posts: 30
Location: Torrance, Ca
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I just looked at Art Ludwig's system. Only things I would change would be not using mechanical check valves, and outside, I would treat it like an indirect waste system, and let it run into a funnel with a filter in it to help reduce any lint getting down into the feeder pipes by the roots, so the system would last a lot longer without having to change, replace, snake out, or pay any attention to it other than cleaning the lint filter from time to time. Doing it this way would also eliminate the need for an air break. Come out of wall, 90 down, short piece of pipe, and a 1" air gap between the end of pipe and the receptor (funnel). That one inch gap is your air break in a indirect system. What's more, they get really anal about having any grey water system connected to any other system at all. The air gap would also help in that regard. If you ever wanted to hook it up to the sewer waste, just move the hose from one pipe to the next. Same setup could be used for tub / shower. In a tub / shower or even a kitchen or bathroom sink setup, you would need to be able to create a water seal in your traps. A trap primer would be the professional way to do it, but it could be as simple as drilling a small hole in your pipe so it slowly drips into the P-Trap. Otherwise, you would get that nasty sewage smell coming into your place.
 
Ty Morrison
Posts: 154
Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
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Here is a good video on how we are doing nationally, regionally and in Las Vegas on water recycling and awareness. I am sure this could go in many places on the Permies site, but this seemed like a good one. It does show Brad Lancaster ideas. I hope Jennifer Wadsworth sees this.

http://bcove.me/cbn3kk4j
 
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