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Posted: 8/12/2007 7:03:49 PM EDT
If you wanted to make the most of your water how could you treat or filter your gray water to safely water garden or something?

Would using biodegradable soap help/work? I am naive at this obviously. We are looking for our first home and I am brainstorming ideas for self-sufficiency, preparedness, and just overall cheapness. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Link Posted: 8/12/2007 8:54:13 PM EDT
Greywater is "illegal" in my state, but I know folks who use it to water fruit trees.... They seem to be OK..

Link Posted: 8/12/2007 9:19:43 PM EDT
Build your garden over your leech fields. I'm not sure of any sanitation issues. Grey water is nasty stuff, but in the summer thats the only green spot on our proporty.
Link Posted: 8/12/2007 9:41:15 PM EDT
Depends on how much "gray" there is in your gray water. If you're routinely dumping old dairy products down the sink or grinding up table scraps in the InSinkErator, the bacteria will be having a field day. However, if virtually all of your waste water comes from washing clothes, bathing and washing dishes and hands, it'll probably be cleaner than what comes out of the tap in some communities...
Link Posted: 8/12/2007 10:05:19 PM EDT
What started my line of thought was dishwashing in particular. Between 2 kids and 2 adults we make a lot of bathing water too.

Was thinking about the leach field too. I am glad that someone else said that.

but is it safe?
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 4:07:14 PM EDT
I don't think it needs anything to water plants. Bath water is mostly perfect for irrigation. Dish water is not as good, stay away from black water.
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 4:38:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 6:28:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TomJefferson:
Surface dumping stinks, literally.

Does it? I wouldn't have thought grey water would smell except like Dawn, Tide and Dial. There's enough gunk in it to stink?
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 6:58:51 PM EDT
When you speak of gray water are you talking about washing machine/ bathtub? Or like EVERYTHING that comes from your house? There are ways to filter washing machine water and use it for drinking, But I dont think I would go that route except as for a last resort. But From what I have read, you can use it for watering vegetable gardens. And believe me thats alot of water comign out ot that thing.
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 7:28:54 PM EDT
I was assuming that all of it- dishwashing, clothes washing, body washing- was gray water just going on what is in a camper's holding tank.

Terminology aside, dish and clothes washing okay to water plants through leach field or french drain system?

Cheap guy that I am, I am looking at our city water bill here and I am marvelling at how I pay to have the water put into my house and then I pay for it to go out of my house. The simple economy or lack of economy here makes me want to use a well in the most efficient way possible.

Yeah, the location of the well versus any leaching is going to be pretty site specific.

Can I assume that gray water dumping being illegal has to do with phosphates from detergents? Or is it more about fecal coliform from bathwater or something like the confusion about what EXACTLY gray water is.
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 7:40:56 PM EDT
any water that does not contain human excrimant will be fine for watering plants and even garden.

human urine in small amounts will not be harmful either. (peeing in the shower)

plants are amazing filters, edible plants are ok, but you "must" aclimate to it. something the sterilized west has not done.

feces is right out. not that other cultures haven't adapted to it, but again, in america we people have not adapted the immune system to cope with it.

but soap and water from the shower will be just fine as long as it is used in the garden or on trees.
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 7:46:53 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 7:48:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By stormwalker:
any water that does not contain human excrimant will be fine for watering plants and even garden.


I would also include food products (table scraps and food-laden dishwater) in the "unsafe" category. Undigested food is only slightly less nasty than the digested variety (particularly after decomposition starts to set in).
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 7:55:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Skibane:

Originally Posted By stormwalker:
any water that does not contain human excrimant will be fine for watering plants and even garden.


I would also include food products (table scraps and food-laden dishwater) in the "unsafe" category. Undigested food is only slightly less nasty than the digested variety (particularly after decomposition starts to set in).


uh, so what happens to wild plants that rot and "fertalize" the same plant?

or that neato cow shit you put in the garden?

food waste is not the same as "human" waste.

it won't hurt you.

more of the "sterilization" mindset of americans.
Link Posted: 8/13/2007 8:00:31 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 4:29:21 AM EDT
can't argue with that.

I guess it depends on if your growing for pleasure, (flowers) and garden for enjoyment, or survival because tomatoes and corn are not available in the store at any price.

Link Posted: 8/14/2007 5:07:52 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/14/2007 5:09:24 AM EDT by TomJefferson]
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 7:00:18 PM EDT
Thanks to everyone for their input.

I hadn't considered a lot of what was said here about smell. I realized that legality would have to be researched, but some good points were made that I need to think about drainage, site plan, and even questioning the need to do it.

Thanks again.
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 9:47:48 PM EDT
Just to clarify: To me, everything that comes out of the house and into the septic tank, then to the leech field, is gray water. Its nasty, I wouldnt think of dumping it on the lawn... But in the dead of summer, the leech field is by far the greenest part of the proporty. We have never planted on it, but it grows the tallest, greenest, thickest grass.
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 9:54:49 PM EDT
... make a cognizant effort to use only non-phosphate soaps and detergents, and you will be fine
Link Posted: 8/14/2007 11:08:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By stormwalker:

Originally Posted By Skibane:

Originally Posted By stormwalker:
any water that does not contain human excrimant will be fine for watering plants and even garden.


I would also include food products (table scraps and food-laden dishwater) in the "unsafe" category. Undigested food is only slightly less nasty than the digested variety (particularly after decomposition starts to set in).


uh, so what happens to wild plants that rot and "fertalize" the same plant?

or that neato cow shit you put in the garden?


You're describing decomposing vegetation; I'm describing rotting meat and milk products - Two entirely different animals.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 2:40:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tx_snafu:
Just to clarify: To me, everything that comes out of the house and into the septic tank, then to the leech field, is gray water. Its nasty, I wouldnt think of dumping it on the lawn... But in the dead of summer, the leech field is by far the greenest part of the proporty. We have never planted on it, but it grows the tallest, greenest, thickest grass.


Technically, the washer and tub water are gray, sinks and toilets are black. In NM, they are plumbing gray and black water drains separately in some new houses to make gray water usage easier.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 3:00:02 AM EDT
Well you could get some plastic 55 gal drums and reclaim the water from your roof when it rains. You can hold on to that for about a week and use it to water grass, bushesor trees. Not really gray water but you can reclaim some water. Just a hose and a shutoff valve at the base of your drum is all you need. You can hook it up to a soaker hose.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 4:32:41 AM EDT
Consider this a Tag.

The previous owner of our house plumbed the greywater (sinks, dish and clothes washers only) to a sump crock, and that pumps out to a puddle on the side of the house.

We were thinking of re-plumbing everything back into the septic system, but it seems wasteful if we can get some irrigation use from it.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 6:51:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/15/2007 6:58:08 AM EDT by TomJefferson]
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 5:02:34 PM EDT
The washing machine water from my house is piped to the surface instead of into our septic system. It doesn't smell bad, but it seems to kill some plants, others love it particularly ivy.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 6:09:03 PM EDT
IIRC one of the homestead / 5 acre DIY "back to the land / stick it to The Man" books dad had from the 60's-70's suggested using gray water (bathroom sink/shower/tub) as the "flush" for your toilet after running through a crude filtration system to remove sloughed skin & soap.
Link Posted: 8/15/2007 6:10:09 PM EDT
shower water is probably the cleanest of the bunch. I believe that all kitchen water is considered black.
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