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Location: central Pennsylvania
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It's so interesting that this is the topic of the hour! Just yesterday I was thinking ahead to our next home in a couple of years, and would it be possible to put a grey water system in so that we don't have to waste all that water. I live in central Pennsylvania and have not a clue about how to start with it all. One question I did have is, I can see if you are starting with new construction, digging a foundation routing all the pipes Etc. But if our next home is a pre-owned home, is it  even possible to put in a grey water system even if we have say an acre of ground? Or is retrofitting an existing house pretty much out of the question economically? My husband and I have great intentions but pretty much no skill in home construction / maintenance items like Plumbing electricity Etc.
 
gardener
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If there is access to the sewage pipes, then yes it is possible and feasible.

In the south with concrete slabs and no basements, this is not the case. The only access in this case is after all pipes merge into one. So commode water can't be separated from shower water.

There are small things that can be done by anyone. A bucket under the bathroom sink to collect water is one example.
 
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Hi Emilie,

Yep, upgrades are common enough. The design will depend on that you want to achieve. If you want to recycle your grey water, then separating that from the sewer lines as early as possible will be important. If you want to clean up your septic tank effluent though, then it may be as simple as installing your reed bed or wetland directly after your existing tank, and then routing the treated effluent back into the percolation area.

What's your aim in using the reed bed?  
 
Emilie McVey
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Location: central Pennsylvania
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I guess a reed bed is not the big draw for me, necessarily, it's making use of otherwise wasted water. There's a community near Gettysburg that cleans/recycles its effluent thru a greenhouse system; I think it is even re-used in some way within the houses. I would like to use grey water to water my gardens, reserve it for next year's garden, or reuse it in some way within my home. Maybe a water-cooled air conditioner, like some places in Texas still had when I was growing up. I can't remember the name of those things now....  Could it be safe for animals to use, to water chickens, goats,etc?
 
Feidhlim Harty
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Hi Emilie, I completely understand where you're coming from. Here the main focus is simply getting the water clean enough to discharge safely back into the environment, whereas if we had higher temperatures and lower rainfall, then the focus would shift quite rapidly to reuse. I'm not a particular fan of greywater reuse in Ireland, where the rainfall is abundant and where I really question the ecological footprint of the recycling infrastructure, vs simple rainharvesting infrastructure instead.

For your site, for air conditioning or water reuse, you may be able to find a good off-the-shelf grey water recycling system, or check out Art Ludwig's website oasisdesign.net, or you could use a reed bed to get the main filtering work done on your grey water (or septic tank effluent) and then pump the effluent back through a proprietary filter system of carbon or ceramic to get it back to close-to-potable for reuse in washing machines etc.

Let me know how you get on. Interesting project.
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:
In the south with concrete slabs and no basements, this is not the case. The only access in this case is after all pipes merge into one. So commode water can't be separated from shower water.



Not necessarily true.  It can be done, it's just more work.

My house is built on a slab and I have upgraded to greywater recovery.

Some parts were easy.  For the laundry I jut added a new drain pipe and ran the pipe along the inside of wall in the garage and then bore a hole in the outside wall to bring it out.

For the kitchen sink (I only recover the rinse water sink, not the wash water/dishwasher) I just went straight out the wall behind the sink.

For the shower, it is more complicated.  I had to tunnel under the slab.  Tunneling under the slab is not an uncommon way to fix plumbing problems that are below the slab.  It's not easy, or quick, but it's doable.  
Anyway, for the shower I only had to go 3 feet, so not that bad.
 
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