Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gray Water Treatment and Artificial Wetland

I promised a while back to show you our artificial wetland. This is how we process our gray water. We got the idea from a book called Healing Appalachia, which is a fantastic resource for folks living in our part of the country.

In the book was an idea for a gray water treatment system that would process your waste water - the kind you get from washing yourself or your dishes or whatever. (This is not what is referred to as "Black Water" which is something all together different - and is handled with the composting toilet system.) This system filtered the water so by the time it made it back into the environment it was clean again.

We used the idea from the book, and some other resources, and modified it to fit our land and our overall design. We still use the right types of rocks to act as the filtration source but we created a system that worked for us.

Also, we do only use biodegradable soaps and shampoos in our house, which makes the process a lot better overall.






The small pot sitting on the rocks has small drainage holes in the bottom. We pour the gray water (which is collected in a bucket that hangs under the drain from the house) into that pot and it slowly drains into the largest of the green pots. From there, the water drains through layers of pumice, pea gravel, and drainage rocks through the rigid gray tube to the next size pot. It goes through the same layers there and then into the third before draining into the plants on the edge of our tumbleweed house clearing.



14 comments:

  1. Have you thought of making a pit of the stones like the Amish and other groups do?

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    1. Essentially, that is what we did. But with a little more engineering and a lot of style! :-)

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  2. That's cool! I'm going to need to start thinking of how I'll do that here in VT. I think I might need to do a similar system, but under ground so it doesn't freeze up...

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  3. Cool! Graywater is one of our next big projects to tackle - I pinned your idea for reference!

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  4. Still in the planning/dreaming stages of my smaller living,and learning lots-thanks for this,got some great idears :)

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  5. Really cool! I hope to build something like this one of these days.

    Sterilex.com

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  6. Is there any websites that show how to construct filteration systems like this? Thanks

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    1. Sorry for the late reply, but here is a good resource for building an artificial wetland. http://greywateraction.org/content/about-greywater-reuse

      However, the best resource I've found is from the book Healing Appalachia.

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  7. Nice system. What happens with the rocks and the materials used to filter the grey water? At some point do they need to be cleaned or flushed? How would that grey water be handled? I'm very new to this and I'm trying to gobble everything up.

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    1. We could occasionally put clean water through the system, but I've never read anyone who suggests that would be an issue. The water is filtered through the system and exits the end into the surrounding plants as suitable water.

      And remember, this is only the washing water - toilet wasted is handled separately.

      We add an extra layer of responsibility to our gray water by using only biodegradable shampoos, soaps, and detergents. In truth we could dump our gray water directly on the ground but we wanted to provide the extra filtration.

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  8. hi, very nice system you have there. It is very similar with our system. Just add charcoal in one of the pots to remove the smell of the grey water. :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Maybe it is because we use natural soaps but we have never had a problem with the gray water smelling. Thanks for the tip, though.

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  9. Any ideas how to adapt this to a northern climate? I'm in Wi and am having tons of trouble figuring out a off grid grey water system that won't freeze

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    1. Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for reading.

      I really wish I could help with some ideas for gray water systems like this one in the midwest but I've not had any experience with them north of the Mason/Dixon line. The only thing that I have heard is that burying the system below the frost line can help avoid freezing.

      Best of luck for finding the resources you need!

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