Grey Water Reclamation
For homes and intentional communities
' -V . - ‘, -
Sorl-box L, ;,; :;rr": /:7/4 Lispersbon
From Wikipedia. the free encyclopedia
Greywater, sometimes also spelt as
graywater, grey water or gray water
and also known as sullage, is
wastewater generated from processes
such as washing dishes, laundry and
From Wikipedia. the free encyclopedia
Greywater is different than fresh tapwater,
which is also known as clearwater.
From Vlﬁkipedia, the free encyclopedia
Greywater is different than blackwater,
which is wastewater from toilets.
By recycling greywater, you’re
getting twice the mileage on
your water. You’re saving
clearvvater, and preventing
usable greywater from being
treated like nasty blackwater.
If you live in the city, you’ll be
reducing the load on sewage
treatment centers, saving time
and money for everyone.
If you live in the country, you’d
probably be reducing the load
on a septic drain field, and
reclaiming otherwise wasted
water for irrigation purposes.
A brief history of greywater
recycling (from the Internet)
From “the Internet‘
Not much is known about the
origins of recycling greywater
in residences and small
From “the Internet‘
But most Internet chatrooms
agree that greywater
reclamation was first practiced
in feudal Japan.
From “the Internet‘
by using it to water _
their bansai trees
From “the Internet‘
& The Konji for “Ninja”
t can also be interpreted
. “one who recycles. ”
From “the Internet‘
i: > (
From “the Internet‘
almost a religion in
What have we learned from
our Internet history lesson?
A. NEVER TRUST ANYTHING EVER
B. N| NJA’S ARE AWESOME!
C. VERIFY INTERNET SOURCES
D. ALL OF THE ABOVE
The previous history lesson
was fictional, but it serves to
illustrate the point that there
are many kinds of things out
there online, some of which
are bold-faced lies.
F/ ﬁx I “
fit I 0
The world wide web features
many expensive, prepackaged
grey water systems with fantastic
claims, which end up being better
systems for the salesperson than
I all 0
I I / Q,
I llTI [I
Some websites are selling
outdated technology and
mislabeling it as cutting edge.
Most of these systems will never
yield a net savings because they
will suffer mechanical breakdown
before becoming feasible.
llTl A El
Most complex residential
greywater systems are
abandoned in under five
years. People that started out
with good intentions are left
with regrets and broken
l N U
I ifll I [I
Appropriately designed grey
water systems are not very sales-
friendly products because they
are way too site-specific,
imaginative, variable, and
Ila, A . <— e—~
IIII HI BI : I I
Greywater wiki. .. we are all
exploring ways to live responsibly
and reduce waste. There isn’t
one “right way” to do this, but
some have gone ahead of us and
offer us helpful hints.
http: //oasisdesign. net/ greywaterlmisinfoﬁndex. htm#hea| th
is an excellent website dedicated to debunking
misinformation concerning greywater recycling. It is
maintained by Art Ludwig, recognized as a leading
authority in the field of greywater research.
He also authored a publication entitled,
Create an Oasis with Greywater, which is available
through the Permaculture International Journal mail
In his book, Mr. Ludwig
outlines some common
errors documented in his
prolonged research of
Eli“ IEI ZRRIEIFIE
Assuming it's simple
Some of the larger systems
have all the complexities of fragile ecosystems.
Pumpning lo begnning oi the system
_ _ _ _ _ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
r _. -'
5'”“"'‘"9 I” _ dl Plvagmiles comrrmris For wfcﬁna
Y‘ 5 ‘X ‘M’ Typhalatlfolla ‘ I
‘ I I
5 I ‘ .
Complex greywater re-use systems
include: constructed wetlands (reedbeds),
intermittent sand filters, soil filters,
greywater septic tanks and aerated
wastewater treatment systems (which use
considerable quantities of electricity).
These require detailed installation and
maintenance and are relatively expensive,
but provide a high quality treated water
which can even be used in drip irrigation
There is a threshold under which it is
not feasible to do complex greywater
recycling. The home with two adults
and two children is unlikely to
generate more than an average of
140 gallons of greywater a day, which
even if all of it were recycled with
100% efficiency, would not justify
retrofitting a house with alternate
plumbing, pumps, and water filters.
lEII””. lIEI’I ilI@lI'iR3
I ".3 L;
Building overly complex, delicate,
and/ or expensive systems with
negative net benefit is pointless.
HI . lj . F1:
"maybe the earth would be way better off if you just
wasted the water than if you wasted all the plumbing,
pumps, tanks, filters, and electricity needed to make
this sort of system work. ..”
filtration and W, §"§: L§. C,e
reuse systems for , _ -
flushing Fm i—V ifi wt‘ 45
residential, A o 1
toilets are a waste
l’ivcr. ~;11ig. ‘c . <t; 'ra_'. .-'e Sam
i ii i» — 0 SIMPLE ISGOOD
,1 H ; F
Toilets can be flushed with grey water by simply
bucketing it from the bathtub/ shower directly into the
toilet bowl (not the tank, where it will tester, and
possibly be backsiphoned into the city’s clean water
supply in the event of sudden low water pressure).
An added plus of reusing bathtub water in this way is
that due to flush volume always being under direct
intelligent control it is always more conservative.
As a side benefit, you save on heating bills in cold
climates, since you get a primitive but highly effective
heat sink as the bath water sits there and cools.
Storage of grey water
all - lj . ‘7§
Greywater is full of bacteria and
can become the biological
equivalent to blackwater
in under 24 hours.
”° il Cllil F" “
V —R’ l7.’
’ l L4‘ ‘Call
A cavalier disregard for legitimate
public health concerns, and/ or
excessive paranoia about
negligible health concerns
.@l l E] ZRRH RE
Use of grey water to
irrigate lawnsl friends
unit of soil
Plume extent: do nctcqu
septic Ieachﬂdd lume
p gataally extmds 50 feet,
should be a rrmlnple of that to allow 3:52’ factor. The UPC
feet of separation from a well to a lea .
VIDII II)! lll. lVl| |’, Vlv‘b ylll-IIIIC WIVCV
eupply In are well’; ‘draw down"
zone. groumtr/ a1.er ﬂown toward»
the well from every direction.
effective punﬂcstlon In the
up or reaches of the sol. The
ogical contanmatlan plume
starts ace r and can extend
a hundred set or more. and is
thus more likely to reach
part In bedrock ﬁeeuree. limestone eavee. or love cube:
of well casing
wastewater can flow rapidly long distances with
little treatment. Cortamlrution pumea can extend
for the full bngth of the ﬁoeureo: I rule or more
Alrrnef. the rmly pnirifizatian ‘us by plumage fhrrvuqtr
poll before the pathogene reach the ﬁeeure
ration diuwicu. If a
require ll! )
5e c efﬂuart added to 18" deep
n is rapidly purified by large numbers
of beneﬁcial bacteria near surface of sol
biological contamination plume
attenuates rapidly nthogerl
near zero within 50 net in most oails.
flaw. p. 43), wastewater may
into surface water before it is treated.
flmuingwntenthue isnlmostnonntural treatmentothe
-. ... .-, .-. , . ..‘, -,. .._-. .
trea: ment In this most
viologically : ct‘~e zone. AI5.
the pathogen levels are Icwl
than blackwater to begin w:
the coutamhatian ptune dr
not extend down more char
‘cot or two.
’ " - -. L ' l
swell seil’ ' 74. ,7 ‘V l l 5P, .,', ,a (-55
85$"; ' ~ 1 Groundlvﬂerleval ‘ 9"9“""""
surface wtter '—~» . ,,»’ ‘ l i. u
inﬁltration . :. ‘.”“-"5’1‘”—“‘_‘l"’_""°“". 235.23
V-Gl'°| r-VV’c1AwaE¢' * 9 ~' —. .' '. .. tn.
DIepoulln5OFoot(l5nr)daep How‘ V ‘ '
drywell bypasees the most '
Effluent from a failed aqrtic or greywater
eyetem rumrivq over the ourlace would
be I hourrl Lntal it were adequately
treated. Depemirg on conditions. Hty
feet of overland flaw could remove 1007.
of paﬂvqene (see page 43).
Pathogen levels in wastewater 5 red to soil ¢
order 0‘ 90% per foot. (50 cm) travel. Grow
generally novice rnuc-I lose than a foot ti day. l
contrast. efﬁuerrt discharged to ﬂcwlng surfs:
subsurface waters. where pathogen levels real
receaves near zero nstu-al treatment it a foot
contamination plumes can spread for thousar
excellent treatment can be attained on the surface (see overla
be contacted by chllclren or animals, or
fnclior. dilution. the treatmmt modality corsidend least desirable by the W1:
The Code is not especially rational. It only hot I50 feet for a Health anizalion. Contamination can for miles downstnaal
drywell, which prrwlclen little or no safety factor. e code separation from a is a major weakness of current wastewater treatment thinking in the
Liter outlet to a well is Ill) feet, about a 10: safety
eet from natural surface waters, about a 3 x safety factor (pathogens can
trnvelfurtliercwerthesurlacethanthmu thesoil). off—orforthntnntur. evaiif
The optimum application point is a lance between various
comlderatlons. You want to apply wmtewater high to get the best treatment, thousands of times less p
safeguard groundwater and improve reuse, but not so lg’: that it daylight;
factor, but only 50
which favors a pipe clumping artlfldall treated effluent directly
water: lfthereisany problem—the: truneoutofchlorilxeﬁheg
worst place for it in the entire water
is not, the waste is ‘ '
cycle. Bull: water flows have
city than water in soil, and II
the point ln the water cycle where it is most critical that the water-be
Q l l H’ l WERE
Discharge of grey water
directly into natural waters
or hardscapes is a bad idea.
l J I: C] . ‘:3$'#‘n’
ME k-‘VII V '
77:/ iuscurrziwdtoorrtvlwuiii bnwdhvlhrta-grad?
20.! mm akur : ‘L7"aae; ~ tau-s, u5( spurts
aéucv: -if sac‘ mi Map; gngvaatv D-M:
cs«; qmgn. ~ mwscrfaua A A‘-yin !0"4s; - keys wnrumr-:
lfsmdodardprvidrts ‘avyI¢: r.f-cvrrrurrvycvY
Plan a safe, enjoyable use for greywater:
create an oasis or an orchard.
These systems are generally simple to
install and maintain, are inexpensive,
beautiful, and provide reasonably efficient
re-use of greywater.
. < f ' V '
firms: -'5 ma-wa roam-I -M awn avwrstarlwgcam
bu! rl»‘: 'v . aAut)‘0'4¢t; ~| :au; 4( spds
atrzzov-av am‘ reg-5 gm. -yvaavrmv
ocn; vIyA: - : i~: ufa: u: A ham i0'.1¢y tap: uh: Mav
rt’: mdodarnfpnurux ywywtoﬁtmmmryoef
A good system would use underground pipes to
discharge kitchen sink greywater (full of composting
organic solids) to the roots of a tree in a mulch
basin (a depression dug around a bush/ tree, and
excavated soil is positioned to form a circular wall
around the basin. The basin is then backfilled with
mulch. Greywater is directed to the basin, cannot
escape, and cannot surface above the mulch).
FIGURE 2: GREYWATER CONTAINED AND Covsnzo IN A Bnmcmso DRAIN-FED MULCH Bitsm
(mzv/ mom VIEW)
cmpy 1 gal piastic Outlet dial-ntsr opﬂon
potcavarcdmth upside-davn. empty5gal Claardochargsouﬂstopelon
stepping stones piaauc pat Mail bottom if subsurface distribution is not
ailavs access to cut out and holes drilled in raqul-ad. Gwcan be discharged
double all for clsan- the suns. Allows solids out 2’ above surface of mulch into
which it quioldy disappears. This
is much simpler to construct and
maintain and the added hum:
rbk is minimal (subsurface dis-
trfbuﬂon ls prefcrrvd for kitchaf
sink mtcr so vsrmin can‘: use it
as a fond source).
Mg without lmack- WW Into mulch fvrbiodqradr
ingdinorieaoosln ‘Mama, uansocloggingdoosnot
(the most common puck fgrugy occur. It isveiylmpar-nan:
unaytodlscurbthc kygln, thatdischargccndofylpc
Irrigation of acidic plants which
can't take alkaline greywater
l ll ll 2
Plant sage grass and rosemary
instead of foxgloves.
Q“ llﬂl ZRR@FlE
Trying to connect a garden hose
directly from the back of the
l ll 0
0 Use a surge tank (eg. plastic barrel)
so that large flows from the bath
or washing machine do not back up
into the house. .
»'sr_, ,, FIGURE 4 cmvrnr DRUM
Nodxivg omtalirlv-g sodiixrrg dbnine
or Mm Hydiogterr ; ¢imi'¢le . ‘ "each
is accr; 0% A a'*~v-wy. I-. ~bv-
M? /HP tie the on-rm / ‘gum 5 1
can oerstaihd waibsaaeas;
suu'ufvx_; Aecuewi guyuater
syn twnant 54-; t»: r_wu~‘. ~.
50 to 556alorI Phsﬂc hum
Tevrpa-aely holds maaertiseszayss outtaoquikziyiﬁaraiie/ iosc fsta-fig
gI9J«I&f(: ‘i5 not daisavaabl 4.n. ‘t. ~.s cw-hot meter cm: to «~91 A. -Jr : ;a_; .~ Ar-
nw. ».~: I. ../ mg mvdvw diam A: « rand dram; -v v-rm 9 «hmig 3'. -rym D‘. -
caawnsp the mach»-2 am aliﬁxs maize. " asv ow, -eﬁowif tihrhose $t. '.‘. ~'s, instead
ofcwnigoutniispctrin Setdhniayan nudes wgainnvmpnsssaae.
Ilhshﬂg Ilkahi1¢DtaiI Hose ’
Feed dv-ough Lwhfcw, dryer unto»: sins‘
Iioivtlr -‘-‘. ¢‘i'n tr» -7!"
chm: -rq want: Oful-‘Inf Patna’
l, Dvi’ 7¢"ir: «ir 1,‘ 0-iiii"m'_«
3’ 5,,5i34_; ;,; ,_~, . M wiah tevim tape
, - 1:0‘ Mat: 1 -‘con 3, Sula. -‘rod ﬁn: -xv; wt]:
ya’ or $005 siikwi . v.a'cv' £6026
§+"si2eﬁvgoc>dﬂo-‘ ‘ifea. M;f, a-angcorgney
‘~- n‘Mo». ~i-umcf we-1:-xf mi‘derm‘y it as a grtyuansr
. hon If: I>- hon J-an not slcyr Jam ch» «nan
Thshos-e is irbwd to. -J new mddi Aasin aﬁzsrs ca: -avg sad; “‘. ’i’ ‘Nd ? ??’ $3 may "0: “""‘”
ma M. -Ia‘; mu: 10"desp Io»: -s pi; spsats mweyirg ‘”""""""9"”~‘7 3 P
acaoncfsoil rmvooigaari/ 'srrs ma‘ iezgts 5;-eywater mm.
ac); -«J: to ab-*4.-rfacv A An n l'0"do~_: ivvpa w. 'r. - uh». -to
it"s mated arid pl'. ‘|¢&‘1ﬁ y-q-ate! ‘ from running ow? ’
} N ’
H“ llﬂl ZRR@FlE
Hal “ T:
Do not use pumps. Pumps
are prone to failure. Use
gravity fed pipes instead.
Work smarter not harder.
4” Blackwater PVC wastepipe
used for greywater is overkill.
Q Q "I, /f‘ lfl, l , ‘,
/ --~ “W, ) Sometimes with less water in the pipe,
/ 1.5” or 2" PVC on a CONTINUAL 2%
K I slope carries away solids even better
s, ,_, ,,, ,,/ than larger diameter pipe.
l l l T“
iﬁr > i l‘ i O Jwsttbsfoie
Don ’t use U-traps , ,_, .,
Use gravity fed
u--' . ~.
- . ' ' . -’- 2' fl“'
. ,4? K fralchor hit:
ﬁtted arid: mod cm}:
H“ llﬂl Zflfllﬁllfll
Perforated pipe for grey water
distribution isn’t smart.
Greywater is like a smoothie one day, and cement the
next. .. it will eventually clog holes. Plus, plant roots will
attack the perforated pipe vigorously.
UT llEl Zflﬂlﬁllfll
Grey water to drip irrigation won’t
work (without serious filtration).
all t J . J 0
Even if your greywater passes through
a simple ﬁlter (eg. old pantyhose), it
will still contain suspended particles
and organic matter which will clog a
precise drip irrigation system in weeks.
Overly complex grey water system
Greywater Culvert Detail
GJIVW zs, -G Culvert
Incoming Greywater PH L r‘~"t
lrom Sand Filter to
to Leach Fir, -Id Manual Switch for
Float in Surge Tank
' 2- PVC Pl c '
Activates Pump 1/6 ' pp Mn“
Filtered Greywater to
Sand Orchard Irrigation area
Pump Pushes _ 3; ‘ Filter
Greywater from ‘ , i’ "
Surge Tank Through x K)‘ ,
‘i4). i . I
.1 / ) Note: Pipe ioulmg
txiz; b- on -. rnplil . d
, .z ‘arclarity
If the (social? )
it, you can
always take an
in your garden!
Advanced greywater treatment
‘I I . .. g
Over- r -
"OW " _ - Se tic
Pymp_ Sand filter tang‘
Soil-box planter F
-. , Six ﬂee
‘ Git-ywalc-r Orchard
‘op’ I ' lmgwi-on L‘m?
- . « to Orchard
. -- . ~’Greywatcr
Tank , . , , —
, ’ ‘J1
‘‘: ' lo Loach Field
. N . ,
Blackwater Lino‘ ~‘ , '1'
to Leach Field —‘~ ‘ f
The Greywater System Provides
Irrigation Only tor the Orchard Area