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@Laura : greywater recycling,worthwhile?

 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I am planning a rainwater catchment system to flush toilets and wash cloths. I live in a urban setting, with city water and sewage. My main goal is saving money, so reducing how much we partake of that paid service is paramount ..
My space and funds put a limit on the size of my storage, To make up for this I was considering filtering and storing my greywater.

So is there a relatively simple and inexpensive filtering method for my kitchen sink,laundry and shower water? I know greywater that is stored and untreated turns to blackwater.
Can greywater be safely filtered and stored.?
Thanks in advance for any advice on this matter.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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These are two topics one is rainwater catchment the other greywater reuse.
For the rainwater catchment: I would say it is a safety backup (see California drought). If you are in an area with reasonably low air pollution it is safe to drink. We have a system plumbed into the house, but then you would need a pump which costs. Rainbarrels are not useful (only if you live in an area were it rains every second day) you will need a tank as big as you can afford and have the space 10.000 liters at least, but even less can be useful, we have 20.000 litres. Make sure that the gutters actually fall in direction of the downpipes (they rarely do) simply pour in a bit of water and watch it flow. The rainwater has other advantages like it is not treated better for your plants etc... If you only install the tank, this is very easy and everyone can do this.
The greywater system: the main question is how easy you can access your plumbing. Greywater use for the garden is OK, as long as it is not on acid loving plants. Some people do recommend a hose which is moved from spot to spot so that there is no buildup of soaps in one area. Some people do say that this may clog the soil. Greywater is definitively not as good as plain water. I would not use it on the vegetable garden though. Greywater actually get very smelly very quickly that means that you never store it.
We have a wetland system with greywater which works fine, but it is purely ornamental. You might be able to water your fruit trees with greywater, but not acid soil lovers!
Finally, you cannot use harsh chemicals like bleach.
 
Laura Allen
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While it is possible to filter and store greywater it is rarely the best way to use the water. Since greywater is produced every day, all year long, there is little benefit in attempting to store it, while there are many drawbacks.

Some of the issues with storing greywater are:
1) The system is more complicated and expensive
2) The system takes up more space
3) If the nutrients and organic matter are not sufficiently removed from the water over time the water become anaerobic and stinks (plus the nutrients and organic matter could have benefited your garden if they weren't removed).
4) Residential greywater systems that are more complicated require more maintenance and are more prone to failure.

Instead of trying to store greywater I would recommend you do a thoughtful design and match your greywater production with the irrigation needs of your landscape. Often homes run out of greywater before being able
to irrigate the entire landscape.

Here are a few types of systems that are simple, low maintenance, lower cost, and work very well. You'll need to research them a bit to decide which is a good match for your home and landscape.

-Laundry to landscape
-Gravity flow branched drain
We have more info on our website here: http://greywateraction.org/contentabout-greywater-reuse/
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Laura, Angelika, thank you both.
Laura, your analysis confirms my suspicions.
Angelika, I will be using a pump,on mains power at first, but ultimately solar powered. I will have to translate liters to gallons, but thank you for the guidelines.
We may never drink the rain water but who knows?
Laundry to landscape watering should benifit from starting with rain water.
I am building mulch basins/paths for storing water, but the admonishment about the
 
Angelika Maier
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I can't stand town water we wither drink spring or rain water. What they chuck into the town water is simply disgusting. If you want to pump it into your house I would get immediately something with emergency bakckup generator, in case of a bushfire if you life in a fire prone area. The pump is the expensive part. One gallon is about 4 1/2 litres.
I stored greywater once in our old house because I thought the washing machine water is too hot and kills the plants. Within half a day it was converted into something awfully revolting.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Looks like I might want 2000 gallons.
Doubt I could fit this much into my house, it would take maybe 6 to 8 IBC totes. Maybe I could bury them in the yard.
 
Angelika Maier
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In our old house we had less than that, but we only used it for the garden. Because we had little space we had to buy two tanks, which is significantly more expensive than one but still cheaper per litre than these slimline tanks. Simply put down a gravel bed, some boards around, rake and hose it in evenly and put the tank on the top.
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Hi Laura,

Great to see your straightforward reasons for not storing grey water.

I know that this is a bit outside of what's on your website, but I wonder if you have any experience in reuse of agricultural farm washings at all - particularly for dairying?



 
Kevin Young
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Laura Allen wrote:
Here are a few types of systems that are simple, low maintenance, lower cost, and work very well. You'll need to research them a bit to decide which is a good match for your home and landscape.

-Laundry to landscape
-Gravity flow branched drain
We have more info on our website here: http://greywateraction.org/contentabout-greywater-reuse/


Great website! Thanks for all that information! It looks like the first thing to try would be laundry to landscape--I am interested! I did not see on the web page considerations for laundry soap, fabric softeners, etc. Are there guidelines for what NOT to stick in your washing machine?
 
Laura Allen
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Here is some info about laundry products, it's one of our FAQs

What soaps and products can I use with my greywater system?

Plant friendly products are key when reusing your greywater. All products should be biodegradable and non-toxic. In addition, they should be free of salt (sodium) and boron (borax), two common ingredients that are non-toxic to people but are harmful to plants and/or the soil. Chlorine bleach is also harmful to plants and should be diverted with any other harmful products to the sewer or septic by switching the 3-way valve. Hydrogen peroxide bleaches are less harmful and can be used instead of chlorine. Another consideration with soaps and products is their affect on the pH of the water. While many soaps do not change the pH, some do. In general, liquid soaps do not change the pH, while bar soaps make the water very basic (opposite of acidic). Certain acid loving plants may not be happy with this kind of water. If you’re uncertain if the pH is being affected choose plants that are not acid loving to irrigate. Acid loving plants include ferns, rhodedendrons, and blueberries.

Products we recommend: (they are salt and boron free, and pH neutral)

Laundry: Oasis, Ecos, Biopac liquid detergent, Vaska. There are also soap alternatives that are greywater friendly, like soap nuts, and “wonder balls”.
Showers: Aubrey Organics makes shampoos and conditioners that don’t have salt or unhealthy chemicals, and are fairly easy to find. In a shower, shampoo is fairly diluted so it is not as important as in the washing machine to have the best products, but it is important to have products that are not harmful to our health, surprisingly many shampoos and conditioners contain carcinogenic chemicals. You can find out what’s in your products at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s on-line database.

 
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