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Greywater: could I do this?

Posted by BelgianPupWA WA/Zone 8 (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 21, 04 at 3:33

I have just finished reading Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig.

I understand the basic concepts (I think), but even the "simple" methods seem rather complicated, what with the plumbing, barrels, etc.

So, could I do this:

Attach non-kinking PVC flex pipe to the water outlet of the washing machine, run it just under the deck (about 16" off the ground), around the corner of the house, and into a mulched basin about 12" deep that would hold maybe 100-200 gallons of water. The end of the pipe would be hidden by plants, but it would be maybe 6" off the ground (to avoid any backwash).

I visualize the basin planted with maybe bulrush & cattail, with ornamentals (at this point) planted around the perimeter.

I am thinking of starting like this because there is obvious but not steep slope here. The fruit trees are further out, and I don't know at this point if there is enough slope from the house to them to completely drain the water.

There is pretty good drainage here (flattish but elevated land, drinking water is about 100 ft deep), so I am thinking that the water would fill the basin to some extent, then drain, fill & drain.

Here in the coastal Pacific NW, we do have some excessively heavy rain, but most of it is fairly light but steady. Also, up to a foot of snow at one time, sometimes none at all. Summers tend to be extremely dry.

Is this too simple? How far from the house should it be, minimum? Am I overlooking something(s).
Any thoughts?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Greywater: could I do this?

I've figured that the water from the sink and the washing machine usually has so much soap & gunk that it's better off down the drain. The bath however is a different matter. I've tried to talk the kids into bathing Japanese style which mean soaping and washing it off before getting into the bath and when that didn't work I bought bio-degradable soap. Then I put a hose from the bath through the bathroom window and right up to the drip line of the orange tree. Now, a 100 litres a day for one tree might sound like a lot but it's definitely the happiest looking tree I've got. The only problem is a mouthful of bio-degradable soap infested water that repeats on me all day. But, what the hey!

RE: Greywater: could I do this?

I didn't say, but I was going to biocompatible detergent in the wash.


RE: Greywater: could I do this?

I've read about several cheese factories that use all their greywater this way. I know I posted it in another thread. I'll try to find it.

RE: Greywater: could I do this?

Why not? Use biodegradable products from a reputable source such as 7th generation, etc.

RE: Greywater: could I do this?

i think that even if you didnt use biodegradable soaps if you use the right plants and have adequate surface area the soaps wouldnt be an issue. the only thing i would change would be the use of bulrush and cattails for the planting. cattails can be overly aggressive and choke out other things. i would look into what plants are native wetland plants in your area - i am not very familiar with WA. or i would offer suggestions... you may want to look for a state native plant society or local nature center for wetland plant ideas. the maximum benifits of an oasis would be realized by a diverse planting of natural wetland species.


Er... I MEANT to say PHOSPHORUS not nitrogen.

RE: Greywater: could I do this?

My main problem is that I have a slight slope to the land, and it would be difficult to pump it uphill from the house, & I don't want to burn out my pump. I thought it would be simplest (& best for the washer pump) to air it downhill.


RE: Greywater: could I do this?

Definitely go with the downhill option. Your obvious but not steep slope- How much is it? If it is more than 3cm/meter it should be fine I think. You might consider some very minor (ie you, a shovel, and bucket of sand) landscaping along the route of your non-kinking hose to ensure an even drop. But your basin idea sounds perfect to me.

How much fall will you have vertically between the drain and basin?

You might consider a second drain to the fruit trees from the basin. You could make it primitive (dig a trench, and fill the bottom with gravel, then replace soil on the top two inches or so) or you could go with pipe. The primitive drain might work better if you have a clay soil, but I think that goes without saying.

Our greywater system is working at 3/100cm. But it is just 3 meters from the house. It is just a stub at present though. I have to fill it with some more plants. Cattails seem like a nice option. Hungry plants they are. Maybe I'll plant some willows near it as well. I love willows.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
Eric in Japan

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