Homepage 2019 » Forums » Water Sustainability » Greywater mulch pit doubling as a swale

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    I am still trying to mull over how we could have a greywater system on our hillside property. I was already thinking about digging in some large swales along the countour of the hillside and then mulching them to trap water. Could I run my greywater into these swales? (provided the soil is ok and the area/depth is appropriate) I was thinking I could at least run the greywater out there during the dry season, during the rainy seasons in spring and fall I don’t think adding more water would be a good idea. If I dug 2 swales I could even design the pipe to go to one or the other. As it’s all on a downward slope, I should have plenty of drop between the two for the water to run down. . .



    I’d think you could, but I would consider planting out any greywater collection site as mild water treatment. For dual-purpose, maybe also plant sunflowers down slope to not only shade the area to prevent evaporation, but to also sequester toxins from the soil. Then dispose of the biomass in ways other than mulching/composting. I hear sunflower stalks make excellent biomass for bio-char, and pyrolysis will render most of any unwanted compounds harmless.

    Just some thoughts.



    You would have to look at your local regulations and see if they will allow the use of grey water in a recycle/reuse facility like that



    We have ours running into a gravel/pebble pit below house 300mm deep 20mtr x 20mtrs ,where it is evenly spread out over and into so no water above ground ( no mosquitos ) planted out in Calex and other plant’s to suck up nutrients then on to 5 swales..works great. We have 8 swales in use on our 5 acres that gently slopes to the rivers edge…we must keep river pristine..



    Instead of sunflowers, perhaps Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) would work. In addition to growing like weeds year after year, they also are a feedstock for making ethanol. David Blume’s excellent book Alcohol Can Be a Gas talks of this, along with many other permaculture ideas built around using ethanol as a renewable liquid energy source.
    I have been doing some work here in sunny Northern Nevada on solar distillation, which does improve the EROEI of ethanol immensely.
    I can tell you from experience, solar distillation does work, and the energy is free.
    I hope I am not derailing this discussion.



    sounds neat. I run my greywater from my kitchen sink into the greenhouse (mud floor) that I put on the south side of my garage, and use it to support the garage slab, that has dropped 2 inches in the last 3 years due to drought. The slab is too thin to jack up per the foundation guy. until we get enough rain to raise it, at least the greywater is keeping the clay moist so it doesn’t sink farther.



    Hey Jason… I’d like to know more about your solar distillation process. Trisha, as far as greywater is concerned, dispersing into various mulch basins is better than having it all in one spot. Perhaps you could build basins a long your slope planted with Jerusalem Artichokes / Sun Flowers with ball valves at each basin so you can control the amount of water that moves through the pipes… otherwise it will just all race to the bottom.



    Hey, just thought I’d comment after reading the latest magazine article. From what I understand, wastewater is divided into two categories, grey and black water. Grey water would be from bathroom sinks, tubs, laundry and such, and your toilet is black water. I don’t think you’d ever use toilet waste water without running it through a septic tank first for safety and code reasons. Also I’m sure it goes without saying, but you’d want to make sure all soaps used are free of harmful chemicals, and since you also want to avoid grease, I’d advise piping the kitchen sink and dishwasher to the black water side as well.

    I have seen people create a small wetland area where water flowed (downhill from the house of course ;?) first through an area with reeds and marsh plants (even some bamboo) but with a clay base to keep the water from just leaching into the water table (in very sandy soils and in areas where the water table is fairly shallow for instance). Then the clean, phytoremediated water can continue on to either water a garden or feed a pond.

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