Author Topic: What to do with grey water?  (Read 8588 times)

nawhite

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What to do with grey water?
« on: June 03, 2013, 05:02:04 PM »
I'm in the process of moving into a new house where the washing machine is currently located in the kitchen because that is where the only drain access is in the house. My wife and I hate this idea and are thinking of ideas of where to move it.

Currently the leading option is to put in in a corner of the attached garage where there is already a water hookup. The problem is there isn't a drain in the garage. The house has a slab foundation so we can't run a drain through a crawlspace/basement under the house. So we were thinking of recycling the grey water. In the summer this is great because it would work out to being the perfect amount to water our gardens and lawn. The problem is the winter. We can go 3rd world style and bucket the water from the garage and use it to flush the toilet but we would still have water left over (not to mention the fact that we would be carrying buckets of water through our house everyday)

So 2 questions: What can we do with grey water in the winter? and Does anyone have experience using washing machine water for landscape water?

Spork

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 06:09:44 PM »
This probably depends on where you are (how cold the winter is and what codes apply).

I live in the country... and in the south.  It is very common to just dump it on the ground here (though my current setup didn't really work with that...)

I used to live in the city and it was strictly forbidden.  (A city code enforcer saw a neighbor doing it and gave them a warning.)

needmyfi

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 07:08:53 PM »
I'm in the process of moving my septic and the soils engineer told me that in my rural county, it was illegal (without a special permit), but practical to run grey water to a French drain-basically a deep pit filled with gravel.  He said by diverting the phosphate laden grey water from the septic tank, the septic system would last much longer.  I also know someone who grows endangered pitcher plants in north Georgia in his own back yard bog on only grey water.  These bog plants love wet conditions all year round.

Are you rural or in the city?  What kind of climate? 

nawhite

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2013, 07:17:47 PM »
Denver area, technically within the city limits but very residential. I've been looking for regulations about it and can't find anything prohibiting what I want to do. We're short enough on water here that most water conservation things are applauded except for rain barrels because that would be stealing (Colorado water rights laws are weird).

As for climate, its cold enough that freezing is an issue. I had thought about the French drain but I'm not sure how those work in the winter. Does the water still percolate in when its cold enough to freeze?

Spork

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2013, 07:24:42 PM »
I would guess the french drain would need to be below the freeze line, wherever you are.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 10:41:00 AM by Spork »

needmyfi

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2013, 07:36:35 PM »
Denver may be a challenge for the French drain.  It should work if you insulated the drain line well until you were several feet under ground and had a relatively deep pit.  Otherwise the water might freeze before it had time to seep, make a stalagmite of ice and a backed up drain.  Ask your local building officials what suggested burial depth is for water lines in your area.  If it is practical to dig a gravel pit that deeper than the soil frost line-my best guess is you are good to go as long as you insulate to that depth.

exranger06

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2013, 08:23:37 AM »
This Old House did a grey water install, check it out: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/ask-toh/video/0,,20565323,00.html

reverend

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2013, 10:41:27 PM »
If I remember right, the frost line in Denver is 6" below ground. Or was it 12"?  Now I get myself tripped up.

I had rain barrels at my Denver house (it's rented out now) and never any complaints. I think the law was changed to allow you to collect rain.
Anyway, if you can build a little pedestal for the washer and let it pump the water out to a holding tank outside (a hose through the wall?) then you can let that freeze during the winter if you care, and maybe paint the tank black on the inside to let the sun melt it.  Then you can bucket that water around to plants or whatnot (when it's not frozen).


Spork

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2013, 07:30:59 AM »
If I remember right, the frost line in Denver is 6" below ground. Or was it 12"?  Now I get myself tripped up.

I had rain barrels at my Denver house (it's rented out now) and never any complaints. I think the law was changed to allow you to collect rain.
Anyway, if you can build a little pedestal for the washer and let it pump the water out to a holding tank outside (a hose through the wall?) then you can let that freeze during the winter if you care, and maybe paint the tank black on the inside to let the sun melt it.  Then you can bucket that water around to plants or whatnot (when it's not frozen).

If you do this, go the extra mile and make sure there is some sort of overflow system.  I.e: when the tank is full and/or frozen and the washer puts out water, you want it to go somewhere.  Even the energy star washers can put out quite a bit of water -- and the old tech ones put out a LOT.  And they put it out FAST.  Whatever happens, you don't want it to back up and dump inside.

Minimally: put in a moisture sensor that can cut power to the washer and cut the incoming water lines in the event of overflow.  A friend of mine had a washer malfunction and dump inside... IT FILLED HIS SUNKEN LIVING ROOM.  He had to replace the bottom 2-3 feet of drywall in the entire house.

nawhite

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2013, 08:48:14 PM »
I had rain barrels at my Denver house (it's rented out now) and never any complaints. I think the law was changed to allow you to collect rain.

According to the Colorado Division of Water Resources http://water.state.co.us/DWRIPub/Documents/gws-78.pdf you can only have a rainwater collection system if your house uses well water and:

"There is no water supply to serve the property available from a municipality or water district;"

So just so you know, if you have a Denver Water water line, what you're doing is technically illegal. I'm on your side though, Colorado water rights are weird.

LMSunshine33

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2013, 02:58:55 PM »
I'd like to do something similar - my idea was to have the shower pipe split so that I could turn it to go to either the sewer or to my grey water (I was thinking it'd just hook to a hose outside which I would move around to various trees/shrubs.) Then I'd only use it in the non-freezing months. I live just outside of northern CO, and can't imagine how you'd keep a greywater system running outside in the winter. It's just too darn cold.

daverobev

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2013, 07:21:35 PM »
I think the law was changed to allow you to collect rain.

They CHANGED the law to ALLOW you to collect rain?

What? The?

What place in their right mind would say, nope, falls from the sky but YOU CAN'T HAVE IT! Mua ha hahaha!

Katnina

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2013, 09:38:23 PM »
i vote for rain barrels in summer & a backyard skating rink in winter!

dragoncar

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2013, 10:18:09 PM »
I think the law was changed to allow you to collect rain.

They CHANGED the law to ALLOW you to collect rain?

What? The?

What place in their right mind would say, nope, falls from the sky but YOU CAN'T HAVE IT! Mua ha hahaha!

Water rights law is messed up.  Say I own the rights to a river.  The river historically gets its river from your land.  Then you start collecting all that water... no river for me.  That's the theory anyways... I personally believe in the doctrine of Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad caelum et ad inferos ("For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.")

Spork

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2013, 08:04:18 AM »

Water rights law is messed up.  Say I own the rights to a river.  The river historically gets its river from your land.  Then you start collecting all that water... no river for me.  That's the theory anyways... I personally believe in the doctrine of Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad caelum et ad inferos ("For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.")

Yes they are.  A couple of summers back Texas had a serious drought.  The lakes in the more northern parts of the state were not allowed to retain the water that fed into them because areas south of them had rights to it.  The thing is: by the time it burbled through the river to where it was going, evaporation pretty much killed it all.  So: neither party got the water.

MissStache

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2013, 08:16:54 AM »

Yes they are.  A couple of summers back Texas had a serious drought.  The lakes in the more northern parts of the state were not allowed to retain the water that fed into them because areas south of them had rights to it.  The thing is: by the time it burbled through the river to where it was going, evaporation pretty much killed it all.  So: neither party got the water.

Chalk another win for bureaucracy!

nawhite

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2013, 11:01:15 AM »
Water rights law is messed up.  Say I own the rights to a river.  The river historically gets its river from your land.  Then you start collecting all that water... no river for me.  That's the theory anyways... I personally believe in the doctrine of Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad caelum et ad inferos ("For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.")

You're right about that. The change only was for people with wells because the thinking was that they have a right to the water in their well, we might as well give them a right to the water that will percolate down into said well.

As for the Cuius est solum... Don't get me started on mineral rights. And space rights are even stranger! Most countries accept that they only own the airspace up to 100km above sea level b/c beyond that is space. Not Australia, they have an explicit law that says they own space above the land mass of australia. So if you wanted to do any sub-orbital flights over Australia, you'd need to get permission from the government. Not like they have any way to enforce it but still.

Ms Betterhome

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Re: What to do with grey water?
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2013, 04:07:07 PM »
I'm in Sydney, so no freezing issues. We use a diverter off the washing machine into a barrel on a trolley, and then wheel the grey water out to dump on the lawn & under trees. It's seriously low tech, but we have no place to store the water, so it will do for now.

I did see an interesting permaculture design where grey water was channelled in a trench alongside some trees. The trench was filled with high carbon materials ( including wood chips & junk mail), which slowed the absorption of the water into the ground. Eventually the material in the trench broke down into mulch, which could be shoveled out under the trees. This is the orginal, 'suburban' version:
http://permaculture.org.au/2009/05/20/greywater-mulch-pits/. A similar rural version is here: http://milkwood.net/2012/02/29/diy-mulch-pit-greywater-system/
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 04:17:29 PM by Ms Betterhome »