Ryder Spearmann

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since Nov 01, 2017
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Recent posts by Ryder Spearmann

Erica Wisner wrote:I was thinking along the same lines as Larry, but maybe using larger irrigation pipe (you can get 2" diameter with some flexibility, reasonably priced), so you can flush your greywater directly away and not store/handle it.
The same laws that condemn urine (which IS almost always considered "black water" and sewage), and what comes out of the sink, tend to be very prohibitive about unlicensed "handling" of sewage.  So if you can plumb the trailer to the sewer line, instead of handling a honey cart, you'll probably be in even better shape for legal concerns.

For handling, I do like the idea of using what the RVers and boat folks have already tested and proved out.  This is not a new problem, just new to you.

Leaving aside the question of whether killing everything in your sewage is a good idea (i don't think it is, for so many reasons...),

I don't think chemicals will completely do away with the smell.  
Ammonia from rotting urine is the strongest odor, and it will still be present even after strong chemicals kill the bacteria.  So will fat-bound odors like putrescine and BO, for the most part.
Not all bacteria is bad (far from it), and not all sterilized water smells good.  
It usually smells like the chemicals (chlorine, iodine), plus any "deodorizers"/perfumes, plus a good part of whatever it smelled like before.  
It is still somewhat toxic too, it just won't give you typhoid, cholera, giardia, or other forms of dysentery.

Boiling or UV-sterilization are the least-toxic ways to treat potable water, and there is not much point to boiling sewage... not only would it stink, but the nutrient content would attract airborne bacteria, and things would be back in action within hours.
UV-sterilization is sometimes used as the final stage for very clear water, but would not work reliably on cloudy/chunky/nutrient-dense material (light just breeds algae in those conditions).

With chunky grey water with food particles, possible grease, and very high nutrient content, I suspect you'd have a hard time totally rinsing down the sides to the point where your material would be disease-free, let alone odor-free.  

I'd definitely go for more frequent emptying, or an instant-empty drain pipe (maybe equipped with a gluck-tolerant bilge pump or what Larry recommended, if it's an uphill run to the nearest sewer access).

The idea of using grey water to water plants, etc. is still workable.
You don't have to let it go down the drain first.  

I have a greywater sink, but sometimes collect water in a bucket at my feet to take to other parts of the garden on the other side of the house.

There is no law against rinsing your dishes into a dishwater pan instead of down the drain, as far as I know.  
There is no law against brushing your teeth and spitting outside... at least I don't think there is.... nor about how to dispose of "spitoon" contents if you do happen to live where public spitting has been outlawed.
There is no law against rinsing a dish into a potted plant, or peeing on one for that matter, as far as I know.  (I don't recommend peeing directly on indoor plants, however, unless they are getting a LOT of water in fairly short order... most places recommend 10:1 or 20:1 water to urine for plant fertilizer.)
I sometimes make "fertilizer" for my houseplants, up to a few times a year. I won't go into further details, but it seems to work.

If you do end up using the tank-and-tote method as you first outlined, I personally would favor getting a fairly small tank, so you have to empty it more frequently, and its easier to transport/get rid of if you end up moving to a different landlords' place some time.  Then play games with yourself (within the bounds of reason and your agreements) to see how little water you can allow down the drain.  If you are using a lot of water you'd empty it daily/every other day.  If you get creative about minimizing water use, and re-using mostly-clean water in appropriate ways, you might be back down to emptying once a week, but a lot smaller job.

Final note: As far as I know, all sewer connections and septic system connections are supposed to have vents / "stand-pipes," because the decomposition of household waste in sewage can cause gas bubbles.  
You don't want the plumbing to build up back pressure into the house.  
For the same reason, I'd recommend against trying to make the tank 100% airtight.  
Vent it above your roof, or at least outside your space, or it will vent itself up your drains (and I imagine that's exactly where you DON'T want the smell).  Make sure that the vent is big enough that liquids "burp" into it, rather than rising up it.  
Sometimes boat and RV toilets have a close-off or check valve, as an added preventer against odors and back-flow.

Lot of water has gone under this bridge already... so to speak.  good luck with finding a solution that makes you, and your landlord, happy and satisfied.

It's odd that urine is considered sewage... with our dogs and cats pissing in yards all across the globe...   Heck, so far as I know, it's never illegal to piss on your property.  You just can't piss through 8" of PVC pipe before it hits the ground I guess. Hell, you can drink it (astronauts are trained to).  Piss is the starter for food growing with "pee-ponics".  But yeah.  It's "black water".

So sad we have to deal with such foolishness.

Thanks for your note!

2 years ago
Well it sure sounds like you are doing all you can to simplify it!

In my case, I'm in California, and freezing is not ever going to be an issue.

I am also not intending to absolutely maximize usage... I was thinking about essentially irrigating a planter box (from my tiny house... which produces very little waste water... and NO black water).

I thought I could start high in one side of the planter... with soil/mulch layers at a sloping angle, possibly a liner in the planter that is also not flat (angled)... then at the opposite end of the planter, move the water into a trench with more mulch and have it serpentine around a few young trees.

You do bring up a good concern though... something about an "anaerobic slime seal" which I don't know exactly what that is... but I can picture what it must be like.  So I guess some thought must be given to preventing blockages... and in this case you are implicating a lack of air.  I guess that is why I mentioned just passing it though mulch (just something I've heard being used a lot).  For the most simple gravity flow situation... how does one plan to avoid such a blockage?  I assume with providing for the right biology, yes?

Thank you for your detailed answer!

2 years ago
I'm no expert... but I have been looking about the web, and see tons of grey water *systems*... tanks, pumps, valves, switches, and on and on and on.  But it seems to me that the secret of grey water use is getting it in to the ground as fast as you can, and letting nature do it's thing.

Am I wrong about this?

It seems to me that the best thing to do is to make a trench... shallower at the input end.... and deeper on the other end (so water can flow)... fill it with wood chips... perhaps cover that with soil to "seal it up", and then run grey directly into it... planting to the left and right of the trench.  I guess I just don't get why people are so keen on holding tanks, strainers, switches... why do all that?

What am I missing?

Thank you!

2 years ago

Heather-Gaia Thorpe wrote:Is there a way that you can reuse the grey water to flush your toilet?

My toilet is a composting type.  No flushing.  This is specifically about grey water.
2 years ago

Peter VanDerWal wrote:

Ryder Spearmann wrote:
I'm wondering, why would it smell in an air tight container?

Also, can't something be added to prevent the bacteria and prevent smell?
(fires, earthquakes, etc)

The bacteria are in the water already, as is other biological material that the bacteria will feed on, and oxygen dissolved in the water.  However, the really stinky bacteria don't need oxygen (anarobic bacteria).

Can you prevent the bacteria from growing?  Sure, you can keep the water heated above 130 deg F, or near freezing, or add poisons/chemicals, or use a UV light, etc.

Is there any particular reason the LL won't let you use it to water trees, bushes, etc.?

Yes.  It is illegal where I am.  They consider anything coming from a sink as "sewage".

The point about "air tight" storage of stinky water... is that the smell exists, but is contained.  Shouldn't that work?  I don't care if water is stinky, in a sealed container.

2 years ago

Angelika Maier wrote:There are pumps for greywater but after a week it will smell tremendously. Can't you simply pump it off every day?

I'm wondering, why would it smell in an air tight container?

Also, can't something be added to prevent the bacteria and prevent smell?

You can make toxic water drinkable with the right treatment and literally save lives (the exact opposite of toxic).  Everyone should study how to prevent deadly bacteria from spreading ...  and be prepared especially in emergencies when clean water infrastructure is damaged (fires, earthquakes, etc)
2 years ago
Hi All.

I live in a Tiny House that was set up to produce only grey water, but I am in a situation where I need to store it, then pump it into the sewer system (make landlord happy).

So I will need to pump it into a 55 ga drum or similar.... pull it 200 feet (by my truck I expect), and then send it into the sewer system.

The questions I have surround ONLY the practical aspects of getting this done right.  to get it into the barrel, I will need to pump it... and the store it for probably as long as a week...  then empty it weekly by way of a valve low on the barrel side.

It would work best by going into a small(ish) container with pump and level switch... pumping only occasionally when filled to a certain level.  Quiet is good.

I understand there are pumps now that can easily handle the particulates... though I would prefer a small pump.  (small house) . I suppose a "pond pump" would work well.  They are used to being in particle heavy environments.

One other option is to use a squat/wide tank that would fit under the house... I believe there is 1' of room or so... and then I could simply fill that, using no pump.

I understand that smell can be a problem for storage... but if it is "air tight" then it shouldn't be a problem, yes?  Also, one could "spike" it with chlorine bleach or similar on occasion to keep bacteria down.

Oh, and I should mention... the grey water will contain urine... not that I think that matters much (but might legally... as if cats and dogs aren't pissing all over every neighborhood in the world)

Please weigh in on this plan!  You experience could really help me get this right.

Thanks for your kind help,

2 years ago