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Greywater System in an Earthship

 
Bill J Price
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So most of us are familiar with the Earthship design of Michael Reynolds. Yes, there are those that like his ideas and those that don't. He has a pretty good grey water setup in the solarium, front part of the Earthship design. Simple yet effective. Reuses the water from this system to flush the toilet. Since this works so well why do municipalities work so hard to keep us from using this type of technology? There are few moving parts. It is all on site. We move no waste products off the property through miles n miles of drain pipe. There is no billion dollar infrastructure using up our tax dollar. The Earthship does send out the black water to the septic, from the toilets and the kitchen sink. But here again, Mike Reynolds has demonstrated that even this water can be cleaned through a grey water type cell. Granted this water is then kept outside. It is used to water non-edible food bearing plants. This concept might not work well for apartment type structures or places where there are large masses of people, or maybe with some good engineering it might.

So those of you out there already in an Earthship style home or others who are processing your own grey water onsite... What do you see as the pros and cons?
 
Laura Allen
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Using an indoor greenhouse to filter greywater to be used for toilet flushing is a great options in some situations, like in the Earthships. For people in cold climates, without irrigation need most of the year, indoor reuse of greywater
can be the most effective way to conserve and reuse that water.

However, many climates have irrigation need most of the year, and greywater systems that use the water for irrigation are simpler, cost less, use less energy, and require less maintenance than toilet flushing systems.
So for many people it makes more sense to use greywater for irrigation. Rainwater is easier to reuse inside the home for toilet flushing since it starts out so much cleaner than greywater.

I've lived with greywater irrigation systems in my home for many years and have seen how very simple and low cost systems can irrigate a productive and beautiful landscape with very little maintenance.
 
Bill J Price
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We will be collecting rainwater from the roof of our Earthship. In our part of Kansas we typically get 35+ inches of moisture a year. We are going to try and collect as much as we can to store in under ground cisterns. I think we still need to run the overflow out to the swales and eventually into a pond. Using the grey water for the toilet is part of the way the Earthship grey water system is designed to work. We will plumb the toilet to be able to run on either the grey water or pull from the the rain water in the cisterns. There is still some concern as to how clean the grey water is to be bringing into the house to use in the toilet. Some particulates and a bit of odor. Time will tell. It is amazing how much water one can collect from the roof. We will have a metal pro-panel roof so we can actually use the rain water for everyday use after it has been filtered. There are a lot of roofing materials that do not lend themselves to using the rain water from your roof for anything other than outside irrigation. Sicne all of our water will come from the roof we will probably even run some of it out to water the livestock, but that is a couple of years down the lane yet.
 
Jim Gagnepain
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We just did a well and a septic system with our earthship. Which I guess means that it's really not an Earthship, by strict definition. We also have netmetering with our solar PVs and wind turbine, which also makes it a pseudo-earthship. Wells and septic systems are all natural, and very commonplace. When you need service, this becomes important. I have nothing against the grey-water systems. We rented an Earthship in Taos prior to building ours. The water system malfunctioned while we were there. We didn't know what to do, so my wife didn't flush. While it was working, it was a little noisy, but certainly not annoying.
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Bill J Price wrote:Since this works so well why do municipalities work so hard to keep us from using this type of technology?


Because a well designed and simple greywater system can still go awry. A friend of mine lived in an Earthship and got sick repeatedly. Testing confirmed the greywater system had become an E. coli incubator. She moved out before it was fixed - so I don't know if it was fixed. My guess is you would have to remove all the soil, disinfect the components and start over.
 
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