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Recycle grey water to toilets

 
Dennis Barrow
Posts: 22
Location: Columbia Falls, MT
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I would like to recycle grey water just to the toilets. I have seen a few plans for this type system, but was wondering if anyone has experience with this and what would be the best?

We are considering finding a piece of land, (1 - 2 acres) and downsizing our house. (5 kids are grown and place seems a bit big now). I would be building the house myself so could design it to accomodate the system.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Posts: 158
Location: Ireland
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Hi Dennis, check out the Oasis Design website. There's loads of good tips on grey water and how NoT to store it; which is really useful. Water taxes have only just come in in Ireland for domestic situations and we've started a low-tech bucket-in-the-bath method that saves a lot of flushes actually. I'm planning to plumb up our water buts to the toilet cistern. That way it's clean rainwater, and doesn't need pumping or require filtering before use in the cistern like grey water would. Our rainfall is about 1000mm/year though, and relatively evenly spread - so that may not be an option for you.

 
Dennis Barrow
Posts: 22
Location: Columbia Falls, MT
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Thank you Mr. Harty for the Oasis Design website. I will be reading for quite a bit now!

An amazing amount of information there.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Location: Ireland
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Best of luck with the work ahead, may it be rewarding to you and your family. If you need any help sorting out the maze of options available for your blackwater options, have a look here:
http://www.permies.com/t/43412/grey-water/Feidhlim-Harty-author-Septic-Tank

 
Dean Howard
Posts: 112
Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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Hello everyone. I do have an ancient septic, and don't have to do without, but my questions to the masses are...

Is there any room for us non-engineer types to design our own above-ground septic systems?

Is getting off the septic really the best idea from a sanitation, pollution, practical, and "following regulations" standpoint? I saw an old shed today, that someone was giving away, and it looked like a nice place for a two-holer "old fashioned" outhouse.

Is an outhouse really any better?...or a whole lot worse than a septic system? Is it even legal anymore in most places? I honestly have no idea...

 
Feidhlim Harty
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Location: Ireland
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Hi Dean, Recent research here in Ireland showed that where the soil conditions are suitable and the distribution system works well - a septic tank/percolation system can be a very good, low cost, zero energy way to filter your sewage before it hits the groundwater. About 50% of Irish systems are built in soils that are suitable. Excellent. It's the other half that has us in hot water with the EU courts and in dirty water at home

Anyway, if your soil is suitable - chances are it's working fine.

If you want the permie ideal of obtaining a yield, then an obvious yield from the people living on your plot are humic material and nutrients. If you are happy to flush these away with precious Arizona water, then that's fine, welcome to the comfortable majority. If on the other hand you would rather save water, save those nutrients and get biomass back on your land, then have a good look at the dry toilet information that's out there and start putting pencil to paper with your designs. That's it in a nutshell really.

 
Dean Howard
Posts: 112
Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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FH... Thanks for the info... AND Oasis Design is a wonderful site
I guess another thing I'm looking at is the "Permaculture trend". I'm new to Permaculture, so I don't have a feel for what is more acceptable, more eco-friendly, more bio-mass friendly (you've answered this one). more economical, etc. I guess I feel like I'm dumping (pardon the humor) into a toxic waste pool on my own property, and I don't know how to weigh out the repercussions.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Location: Ireland
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Well Dean… I've been invited to play volley-comment on the Permies.com website this week because we're doing the US launch for my new book which answers exactly those questions! Cool eh? Have a look at Cassie's video and check out www.wetlandsystems.ie/shop.html

Or if you just want the list of systems see www.wetlandsystems.ie/watertips.html, (but this is a fairly full list of conventional systems too so from a sustainability perspective veer towards the treatment wetlands, source separation or dry systems - chemical and incineration toilet excluded because of toxicity and energy consumption respectively)

or for a free first chapter look on the UK Permanent Publications website via my shop page.

There's a source separation system being discussed on the compost toilets page of this forum: http://www.permies.com/t/17877/composting-toilet/Humanure-flushing-toilets-worm-farms
and: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/readers-solutions/how-make-vermicomposting-flush-toilet

Enjoy the read.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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