To Greywater or Not
The trick is to figure out how to get the water from our drains to our landscape. One way to redirect your greywater is to replumb your sinks so that they run outside, a harrowing job for even the most skilled homeowner. But there are other alternatives: Hang a hose over a tree limb to create your own simple outdoor shower; keep a 5 gallon bucket in the bathroom and catch the water as your shower warms up; and always consider adding greywater to your remodeling projects.
At the Urban Farm we have integrated the notion of greywater in the remodeling of our outdoor patio, by designing the outdoor vegetable rinse sink and shower to drain into the landscape. Think about ways of using this greywater asset to replace your landscape irrigation water. Normally landscape irrigation water is used directly from the city water supply and is only used once, while your greywater is being used twice.
Here is a simple system that I installed in one of the bathrooms of my home.
My bathroom sink. The water heater is all the way on the other side of the house so I have to put a gallon or two down the drain every time I want to take a hot shower.
So I decided to add a Jandy valve under the sink. The pipe running to the left on this picture goes out to the landscape. The pipe running to the right and then pointing back goes to the sewer. This way if we need to put something that we don’t want out in the landscape down the drain we direct the water to the sewer. Otherwise the water gets directed through the wall and into the landscape.
This is where the pipe from under my sink exits outside. The white thing on the top of the pipe is a back flow preventer.
The water then travels about 20 feet. Remember there needs to be a slope in the pipe so the water flows down. Then we used an infiltrator that was buried near my apple, apricot, mesquite and cherry trees. The picture below shows the infiltrator that we used. There is no bottom in it so the water lands in the dirt and percolates into the ground. This greywater system is oversized for the amount of water that goes into it. I did this on purpose as I eventually plan to add the shower to the greywater system.
When it was all said and done this is what it looked like. The shadow you see at the bottom of the picture is the shade of the apple tree.
• There are special soaps you need to use when utilizing greywater.
• Greywater use is legal in the State of Arizona. Simply follow the thirteen best practices outlined by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in its document, Using Greywater at Home. Check with your state or municipality for the legalities of greywater in your area.
• When it comes to designing and installing your greywater system, the premier book on the subject is Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig. This book outlines the many systems that you can build and includes great graphics, charts, and pictures to assist any do-it-yourselfer. Just remember that greywater is always best put directly into the ground where your landscape plants can us it rather than to store greywater in a container, as it can have a tendency to smell rather quickly.
Greywater is simple to utilize once you understand the concepts.