I'm looking for a little advice and kinda sorta a hand holding. I have been eyeball deep in greywater alligators for about three days now, trying to learn my left from my right. However, I am so totally confused now that I don't know if I even want to bother with it! I don't want to give up because I can't understand it, so could someone possibly tell me if what I'm dreaming of is possible? Or at least point me into a "beginners" section for greywater?
The Property Details: 2.25 acres in Zone 5(b) Schoharie County, NY (aka HOLY CRAP WE BOUGHT A HOUSE) about 1/3 of the acreage is leveled for the house and driveway, then another 1/3 is sloped, some of it quite steep from contractor debris while some of it is a more gentle slope for the leech field and septic, and the last 1/3 is level-ish before reaching a small creek that is our property line. We are on well water, it runs about 4 gallons/minute, with a pressure tank and an ionic filtration system.
I'm interested in not just irrigating with greywater, but would rather recycle it for possibly the washing machine and dish washer, and of course flushing. I'd also like to collect rainwater to help mitigate the draw on our well for potable water.
Here is my confusion - terminology! It seems like everyone has a different idea about whether dishwashers and washing machines can use "treated" rain water or filtered grey water or potable water only. Some considered rain water to also be grey water, while others say that rain water harvest systems could be hooked up to my current water system for the well water and it would be okay. I've come across so many sources with so many differing opinions! I realize that most of life is this way, but when I'm just starting out in all this it feels like a monumental decision that will possibly mess up everything if I choose wrong.
I'm waiting on inter-library loan books to come in, but I fear that if I don't have some basic understanding that it's going to be a waste of time and possibly money. I understand aquaponics, I have this feeling that greywater reuse/recycling can't be THAT much different (other than the obvious sources and nutrients/'extras' in the water), can it?
Wow, I didn't realized I sounded so hopelessly stuck until I just read all of what I'd said. Maybe next time I should hit the "Preview" button first.
Some of the sites I've been exploring (other than Permies) is OasisDesigns, Earth Ships, Greywater.com and a couple of UK sites that I can't remember right now.
All my greywater is used for irrigation, so I have no experience in treating it for other uses. But yes, you can use catchment rainwater for the dishwasher and clothes washer. I've been doing that for 12 years now. But the rain needs to be collected off of a safe surface. I use my metal roof. I know based upon my neighbor's experience, an asphalt shingle roof is a no-go. The water discolored her clothing, ruining anything white, and made them smell funny.
I collect rainwater in a large capacity tank. From the rain gutters the water goes through a sieve to remove leaves and large insects, then right into the tank. Any fine debris will settle to the bottom. Our intake pipe sits 6 inches above the bottom of the tank in order not to suck up any of that fine debris. (We clean the tank whenever it needs it, so far only once in 12 years.) Rainwater needs to be treated so that it doesn't start acting like a pond. Once a month we use a swimming pool test kit to check the pH and adjust it by adding baking soda as needed. Once a month and after a rain we check the chlorine level and add bleach as needed.
I use my catchment water for everything except drinking and cooking. I don't have a UV lamp on my system, thus the reason I don't consume my catchment water. Our county provides free potable drinking water taps and I pass by them 5 days a week. I simply stop when needed and load up some jugs.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Jessica Hill wrote: I don't want to give up because I can't understand it, so could someone possibly tell me if what I'm dreaming of is possible? Or at least point me into a "beginners" section for greywater?
A wonderful place to start is with Art Ludwig's book, Create an Oasis with Greywater.
His website also has a huge amount of information, much of it aimed at beginners like yourself.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
A feeble attempt to tell you about our stuff that makes us money
Mike Oehler's Low-Cost Underground House Workshop & Survival Shelter Seminar - 3 DVD+2 Books Deal