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Recycling greywater, radically

 
Red Stiltson
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Hey everyone,

I was wondering if you thought it might be possible to make greywater potable? My wife and I are going to be getting an RV here pretty soon, and we want it off-grid. We're removing the toilet and putting in a compost toilet, so we won't have any water wasted in flushing. We're also planning on putting in a filtration system to make rainwater potable (the assumption being that where ever we park the RV, we probably won't be able to dig a well.) I like the idea of taking our dishwater and shower water and purifying it to make it potable, so as to institute almost a kind of closed-loop system. We hope we can have a garden patch, but I don't think we're going to go in assuming that right now, and I really don't want that water to go to waste, if we can help it.

The tl;dr of this is: would I be able to put a filtration system on our greywater tank that would allow us to cycle it back into our drinking water system?

Thanks.
 
Shaz Jameson
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Location: Hilversum, Netherlands, urban, zone 7
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Hi, I'm afraid I don't have the answer, but you might have better luck on the grey water forum http://www.permies.com/forums/f-74/grey-water
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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You'd do really well to get Art Ludwig's book, Create an Oasis with Greywater.

His website also has a huge amount of information.

I learned a huge amount from this book and I'll be pulling it off the shelf and rereading sections for years. If you're considering any type of greywater system, Art Ludwig seems to have seen that type of system be installed, and how it works or fails.

I have two ideas related to your question (based on the book, which i can't recommend highly enough):
1) Any kind of greywater system that involves pumps and/or filters is likely to keep requiring maintenance. If you are not mechanical or you don't like pulling hair out of a stinky gooey pump on a regular basis, you may want to avoid those systems. Ludwig points out that the organisms in topsoil or mulch are great at purifying greywater, while providing water to plants.

2) Before installing your greywater system, ask yourself what your needs and motivations are. If you really will be in places that have no other source of potable water (middle of the Sahara, perhaps? The Space Station?) then the expense of installation and maintenance would be worth it. But if you are in the US you can probably get other potable water much more easily. The filtration unit you're imagining might turn out to be more bulk to carry in your RV than to occasionally carry water tanks in the RV when you happen to be going to places with no potable water nearby.

There are lots of small and simple camping water filters that will make slightly dodgy but clear-looking water safe, if you camp near a stream, for example.
 
Tod duBois
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Yes, it is possible. Though the only patent I know uses ozonation and proprietary technology and costs about $30,000

We are working on a black, ok grey project to process grey to potable in a more cost effective way. It's the holy grail of off grid water.
 
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