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Chris Bright

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since Aug 01, 2015
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Recent posts by Chris Bright

S Bengi wrote:

I would use two of these tanks. One for grey water and another for black water. These IBC tote hold about 300gallon and the toilet uses about 30gallon a day and it drains completely. The grey water thank will see 3 times that volume of water but that water is alot cleaner.

So to conserve water, instead of baths or showers, I would clean my body with a rag, similar to how one would clean a baby. It uses alot less water. I would probaby use a no-flush composting tiolet/outhouse/etc. You could always wash at a laundrymat in the city.  I wouldn't use the grey water to shower. You don't want any microbe making it into your lungs. I might use it to wash laundry or toilet flushing, but I would not reuse it in my faucet. If you do store the filtered grey water you will have to add fish and some type of airstone or aeration device, that is probably not a waterfall.

I wondered if there was a gotcha to showering with greywater that wasn't filtered pretty much drinking water clean.  That layering of gravel with straw or other compostable substrate for worms, roly poly isopods and other detritivores seems like a good step, I would just want to get it broken down quite a bit further before putting blackwater waste on garden beds, whether ornamental or food production.  
11 months ago

John C Daley wrote:Water saving in your case.
- With a small home you will be able to ensure there are no leaks
- Use a composting toilet, no water
- showers, have short showers, I find 3 minute are easily managed.

So with this scheme you have reduced consumption by at least 36%.

I would encourage you to till go with a tank.

BUT what about freezing, does that occur where you are?

I believe that even in the deepest freeze areas, it is just the top foot or so of soil in Oklahoma.  I would have to do some research on the Mountain Home area of Arkansas.    Buried or insulated pipes outside, plenty of thermal mass in walls to prevent freezing inside.  

Historically, I feel like I can consider fixing plumbing in the house and have it get worse before I touch a tool.  Leak free plumbing would definitely a skill I would have to work on.  

Japanese style bath, with water that stays clean, either shower or rag and bucket followed by a nice soak in the clean water in the tub.  Depending on how off-grid it was, the washing machine might be a 5gal bucket and plunger with drilled holes.  

Worms do appreciate the moist substrate from flush toilets, and greywater can be used in toilets.  A through flow biogas plant, if I designed one, would also benefit from sludge/slurry blackwater draining through instead of dry solid waste.  I am also concerned I would forget or put off emptying a water-free composting toilet as needed.  

Minimized number of pumps, most gravity fed, a vertical pipe or two and pump water to top of pipe or pipes to have a pressurized water system.  Would I need vent stacks?  Assume code requires even if application might not.  
11 months ago

S Bengi wrote:Avg USA household indoor water usage = 160gallon per day or 1,120 per week (2.6people)

A 2,000 sqft roof with 1inch of rain per week (52inch/year) will just about cover your weekly water usage (2000sqft*1inch*0.623gal = 1,246gallon per week)
A 12,000gallon tank will give you a 10 week buffer, before you have pay a water truck to fill your water tank.
That is if there is a drought, and you started it with the tank just about overflowing. A 1st flush devices the sends away the 1st 2 gallon of water during a rain event sounds good.

I like the idea of having a separate greywater and blackwater system. Your grew water system is 3/4 of your indoor water usage, so the system doesn't have to be huge.
Instead of a reedbed we can use fungi instead. Fill a 250gallon IBC tote with woodchip/biochar/straw/etc, have the greywater flow over, thus filtered.
Lets add worms for aeration and good microbes, insulation so it doesn't shock the worms in the winter, fungi that kills the bad microbes, and finally a mulch pit-drain field.

Thank you for your help.  One cubic foot of space is about 7.5 gallons of water, calculate from there for 12,000 gallons.  

If I can get access to the property in Arkansas that a relative currently owns, I would be looking at a tiny house for summers until the little one is grown up.  I would probably start with about 1/5th of the roof area you are suggesting for weekly water usage.  Then, how much water usage reduction could I manage without sacrificing comfort, cleanliness standards and such?  And how much drinking quality water and greywater could I reclaim and use in greywater usages such as a washing machine?  Could I shower in greywater?  Greywater can definitely be used for flush toilets.  

I am definitely thinking of multiple methods, or what my computer programmer spouse calls defense in depth.  It sounds like we are having similar thoughts on blackwater, I am just thinking of separate systems and it if I understand you correctly, you are thinking throw everything in the same one.  Worms, roly poly isopods, microorganisms, yeasts, maybe even mushrooms.  Both states can freeze in winter, so would definitely need insulation for worms to keep working in the coldest months.  

Drought would be more likely in Oklahoma than northern Arkansas near the Missouri border with all the forests, between water vapor in the air from all those trees and cooler air from altitude in the Ozark range.  
11 months ago
What rules of thumb would there be for sizing water storage and waste systems in areas like Arkansas or Oklahoma?  In Arkansas, I know I would need/want overkill on the blackwater processing in a septic system with all that limestone in the soil.  I would still want to destroy virtually all pathogens in Oklahoma, but I think I would be less likely to contaminate the groundwater there.  

Roof catchment in either location.  If in Arkansas, establish a reed bed bioremediation in swales, with artificial waterfalls connecting them.  Test swale runoff water for contaminants such as leaked car fluids from road "upsteam" along the watershed.  As it is colonized by single cell microorganisms and invertebrates, they should naturally start to adapt to deal with and remove those contaminants.  Mechanical filters such as diverters to prevent the first inch or so of rainfall from the roof from getting in the drinking cisterns, plus sand or fine mesh cloth filters to minimize as many contaminants as possible.  Minimize "food" for pathogens and energy so if a stray water borne pathogen does get in it has trouble propagating in that environment.  

Bioremediation.  If I want to use bioremediation to filter out metabolized pharmaceuticals, do I just start exposing normal breakdown microbes to them?   I am thinking harvest methane/butane from blackwater, then an aerobic bioremediation tank with bacteria, yeasts, etc., then a worm bed with any detritivores including isopods I can get to colonize, before either running through a greywater system or to appropriate beds.  I suspect I could get testing through a nearby University until I was confident my system was eliminating enough pathogens for blackwater sludge to be safe to use and any runoff would be drinking quality or close enough to be safe.  

Drinking/cooking water from sinks would go through a greywater filtration system with mechanical and biological filters before feeding cleaning systems, then pass through the greywater system
again as needed or feed aquaponic or garden beds as needed.  Ideally, the greywater would be drinking quality at the end of filtration.   I would want to reuse as much grey and blackwater as possible and get the rest as clean as possible before it leaves the property.

The main variables would be 2 adults, 1 grade school age child, and several companion animals.  All three of us are (or in my case should be) on appropriate long term medication.  
11 months ago

Burra Maluca wrote:

Adam wrote:

1. Pee is indeed normally sterile, but there are a few pathogens which can be transmitted through urine. However, the risk of these pathogens constituting a health risk is very low because they typically do not survive long in urine and are not easily transmitted through the environment. One important exception is Schistosoma haematobium (a type of fluke ), which is endemic in certain tropical areas like the Middle East, India, and Africa (and possibly Portugal). The life cycle of this pathogen requires snails as intermediate hosts, so in these areas it is very important to prevent urine from entering freshwater supplies to ensure the transmission cycle is broken completely.

Interesting stuff Adam!  The wikki entry said that "the free swimming infective larval cercariae burrow into human skin when it comes into contact with contaminated water.

I think I'm going to be a whole load fussier where I go swimming from now on...   

I don't know where they live, but brain eating amoebas like to enter the body through mucus membranes as well.  
1 year ago

jacque greenleaf wrote:Yes, SF larvae do eat poop, but it is hard to see how they could contaminate your food. I know of no data that supports the idea that a human pathogen could survive the larva-adult metamorphosis process, nor of any data showing that a human pathogen remains infective if it is passed through the larvae and into the compost material. Same goes for worms.

I don't think a truly definitive answer to your question exists because all the research required has not been done. In the end, you are the only one who can determine whether the evidence that exists is sufficient for you and your situation.

Feed waste to BSF larvae
Feed BSF larvae to poultry
Eat eggs or meat from poultry

Very short chain.  On the other hand, there are so many variables, are microbes present, if they are, how long can they survive outside a human, can they survive in the substrate, in the BSF, in the chicken, how high/low is our risk threshold?  
1 year ago

Willow NyteEyes wrote:This seems to be the best place for poop & pee questions so I'll post mine.

I have been reading a lot about managing this resource and I have a few important questions I can't find definitive answers on.

1. Is pee sterile? for example, would putting it directly into the soil that grows food create a germ loop?
2. Does all types of composting kill/remove dangerous pathogens from poop? including vermicomposting?
3. Will non-plant/non-animal substances be composted or ignored and passed into the plants? (Alchohol, parafin wax, plastic wrap?)
4. Are (vegitarian/aerobic) compost piles stinky like rotting veggies in the trash or does that indicate an imbalance/problem?

~ Willow

1) Not if one has a UTI, I keep hearing it does if you don't. Solid waste does have bacteria, such as E. coli, but not all strains are dangerous.  As long as a bacterial population isn't introduced, you won't have one, such as some forms of HPV to name one, in the system.  Some bacteria, parasites and virus can only survive if they are inside a living host.  Some need a specific host organism, others can hop from chickens to pigs to people.  Some are fairly stable, others change a lot from generation to generation.  At least one form of Hepatitis can, I think survive from after washing a solid smear, go dormant for two weeks or so on a dry surface.  In a damp environment, with fresh solid waste coming in, that might be a cause of trouble.  As long as organisms and virus are not introduced, they won't be an issue.  

2) Heat composting would kill pathogens as long as it got hot enough.  Worms?  That would take some research.  Anaerobic bacteria are killed by oxygen.  UV light kills most microbes.  Bleach, hydrogen peroxide and a few other common household supplies kills most microbes.  

3) Alcohol can degrade into vinegar, which is an acid.  I would expect organic waxes such as beeswax to degrade, I wouldn't know whether artificial waxes made from hydrocarbon chains would or not.  I don't think modern plastics or materials such as styrofoam degrade at all.  At least not without help from a recycling plant.  Some elements are used in biochemistry, although usually in molecular form.  

4) I haven't played enough to know, but know that forests are one huge aerobic compost pile and they smell wonderful.  But they don't have concentrated areas of animal waste residue here and there.  There is a composting plant a few miles from the house that can be smelled on occasion, but again, concentrated area and, yes, an unpleasant scent to people.  

I would design based on defense in depth, as my spouse would say.  Maybe capture biogas, then a bioremediation bed, followed by a reed bed, worm bed or both, etc. Liquids would flow from system to system, solids might have to be transferred periodically or I might need to build systems like augers to transfer it automatically.  Aerobic bacteria can't survive in anaerobic conditions needed in biogas plants, anaerobic bacteria can't survive in aerobic conditions in bioremediation beds or reed beds.  Worm beds would have oxygen in the substrate.  If I still had concerns, add sealed UV LED lights in the liquid flow pipes to wipe out a few extra microbes as it passes through.  

Most microbes are either harmless or die easily outside a host.  Few microbes kill a host, if they do, that population tends to die out unless conditions allow passing readily to a new host or persistence in the environment.  Our immune system can handle most of the ones that can get through, unless we get overwhelmed and even then, most won't kill us, just make us miserable enough to wish they would until we can get to the doctor to get it cleared up.  

Where I am seeing disease contamination in the food chain is either during processing or where there are large concentrations of animals in a large space.  The E. coli in raw apple juice a couple decades ago, for example, dairy next to orchard, workers tracking solid waste onto ladder rungs, then handling both rungs and apples.  
1 year ago
If I had the budget for an off the grid system to design myself, I would go with defense in depth.  

First, harvest rainwater, unless I had a deep water well.  A mechanical diverter to allow the first inch or two off the catchment surface to run off, then collect water.  Two socks in the pipe filling the underground cistern, first filled with sand, second filled with activated charcoal, both with access hatch to change them and a way to secure them so that water has to go through them to get into cistern.  For extra peace of mind, a dozen or two dozen UV LED lights along the main cold outlet pipe, sealed so that water can't short out the electronics and hooked up to a battery bank.  

A pump to get enough water up to a 1/2" inside diameter pipe and small tank to have water pressure.  A solar hot water heater with a point of use rocket stove hot water heater to supplement as necessary would be enough to insure peace of mind on the hot side of the water supply.  

I might boil and cool water for a few critical uses, such as infant formula, otherwise, minimize nasties such as blackwater bacteria from getting in in the first place, filter, and UV or heat treatment.  

In an emergency, I think I would just boil water.  If it wasn't clear, I would filter it through sand or multiple layers of cloth first.  I am amazed that I can filter clay slurry through one layer of flannel and get clear water dripping from it.  I wouldn't drink it without boiling it, but it is clear of visible clay.  

As for ocean magma vent bacteria, I doubt that they would survive a trip to your property or mine without significant human assistance.  As long as water is reasonably microbe free and I have a reasonably healthy immune system, I know that my body will deal with a few without issue and there are only a limited number of really nasty disease microbes out there in the water.  Cholera, dysentery, some forms of HPV are the biggies I can think of off hand.  Filtration or distillation will take care of most to all chemical contamination such as lead, mercury, and pesticide residue.  I assume that just because I don't use any chemicals on my lawn doesn't mean no one "upstream" on the watershed does either.  

Hmmm... studies are showing that fungii and rolly pollies can actually remove heavy metals and other contamination from the ground.  I wonder if a fungal bioremediation bed with a rolly polly farm would clean greywater or runoff water enough to be potable?  I would want to be careful to keep any fungii and rolly pollies grown under those conditions isolated from the food chain to prevent contamination as they biodegrade.  

Just some rambling thoughts on the subject.  
1 year ago

Trace Oswald wrote:I would be concerned that it will be very sticky.

I have it cooling now, it looks like the honey is separating from the oils.  I didn't consider the fact that it might get a bit sticky.  I can always take a bath after if I feel the need to wash it off.  

So, I haven't tried it yet, but I learned if I use honey, use an emulsifier such as beeswax so the honey doesn't separate out.  Will it be unpleasantly sticky?  I don't know yet.  Might need to use less honey or omit entirely.  Will I need an antimicrobial preservative?  Possibly, pure honey is antimicrobial, but once something else like water is added, that can give microbes a foothold.  
1 year ago
I am reading that as long as you don't add any water or "water" ingredients, that lotion bars are stable without preservatives?  

I used 2 parts coconut oil, 2 parts shea butter and 1 part honey by weight.  All shelf stable individually, very small batch in case part goes bad before I can use it up.  Honey is antimicrobial on it's own, not sure about in suspension.  Nothing like water, milk, aloe vera gel, that sort of thing.  Just those three ingredients.  Would the honey cause problems with storage after it is used tonight if there is some left?  The first use should be fine.  
1 year ago