As we all know, water (freshwater mainly) is a precious resource that helps create and sustain life on this earth. We must do all we can to keep it clean and healthy for our personal use and the use of all earth’s life forms. An easy way to do this around your home is to install a grey water treatment system. Gray water refers to all the water used in an everyday home/building other than toilet water (sinks, showers, and washer machines). Toilet water is referred to as black water and contains the waste excreted by us humans.
When using a grey water system, we must know the difference and be able to distinguish the reasons why we do not want to mix these two together. Most of us realize that toilet water (black water) can contain many pathogens and bacteria that create a multitude of illnesses if not properly treated. Many of us may not know that the black water contains 90% more nitrogen than gray water. We want to separate the black water from the grey water, or the waste water from the potentially recyclable water. Doing so, we create a system that cycles our grey water through the use of septic tanks (filters), pumps, and plants. As the gray water moves down the pipes from the original point of use, it then goes into a septic tank or settling tank. Here, what little solids are within the water settle out into the bottom of the tank and grease, oil, and smaller particles remained suspended in the water. These tanks need to be able hold twice as much as an average days worth of water use plus and additional 40%. A septic tank divided into 3 sections is commonly recommended for best results and less maintenance. This way solids are settled out, smaller particles are filtered, and the third section fills up with water containing much less particulate matter. An air filter is recommended in order to allow for aerobic processes and quicker decomposition of organic matter.
After the grey water travels through this septic system it then can enter a sand filtration system then on into a planter soil box design. This design allows for proper drainage as long as size of gravel and sands used are properly distributed as to create no water logging areas. Gravels and sands are only used, decreasing in size from the bottom up until the top two feet. This section will be rich organic matter to provide healthy conditions for the incorporated plants used. Grey water can be used to irrigate plant life indoor and out, toilets, and outdoor washing.
When planning to use a gray water treatment system, make sure to keep gray and black water separate. Try to not use certain chemicals that can contaminate your water and make it unavailable for reuse. This way or recycling water is always possible when building a new home, but may not be an option for some homes already in use. This is a relatively cheap system to install, costing less than a few thousand dollars in an average home. Depending upon your system, filters need to be cleaned every so often. With a three division septic system, every three to four years. At the end of the cleansing process, choose where to pump your water and you will happy with your results while feeling great about creating a beneficial cycle.