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Old 11-30-2016, 11:21 AM   #1
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Question Grey Water Questions from The Noob

To begin, you have my permission to start your response with "LOL, silly Noobie, it's like this..."

Now, assume everything I use in my home is biodegradable and that I filter large debris and then filter it again, now I have grey water that can be poured into a garden if I wanted. Also keep in mind that I am disabled. I cannot haul water or even be relied upon to be functional on a daily basis. So, think as if you had maybe one good day every two weeks wherein you could do some light labor. Also, keep in mind that I wish to both move my bus long distances on occasion, bookdock for 14-30 days, and could be in a variety of difference spaces from driveways to RV parks to the walmark parking lot... let's hope not but who knows ;)

Now to Grey Water Questions:

1) If I am near a grassy area, could I just attach a length of garden hose to pull away from the bus onto one a them sprinkler hoses and let the grey water sprinkle out into a wooded or grassy area with nice plants and soil? I'd love to set something like this up and just leave it while I was parked at said spot.

2. What about putting a kiddie pool on the top of the bus and evaporating grey water when it's summer time? (I know I would have to pump it up there.) I'm leaning away from this as I think even in the hottest sunny days I'm thinking more would go in, than out. Thoughts?

3. Shower Loop systems. Anybody used them? Thoughts?

Storing grey water and then dumping at a station I want to be my last resort. Whatever the set up, the grey water tank will be designed to hook up and dump OR to recycle resuse so I have options depending on where I am at.

Thank you for all your help!
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:50 PM   #2
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Start by watching this video.
It has some great info about what people do with grey water at Burning Man. It may give you ideas about how to rid yourself of the water.
While I would have no problem watering the grass with it, if it was filtered, most people would frown on it if they saw you do it.

I suppose you could filter it and then let it "leak" out under the bus as you drive down the road. If it was a small leak, it would just get caught up in the turbulence behind the bus and evaporate as you drive. Again, some people will frown on this, but if you filter it, it would not hurt anything. Or leak it into the exhaust near the back and let it burn off as steam as you drive. Most new cars leak water out the tail pipe while they are running when cold, so I doubt anyone would think it odd.
All of the above are not endorsed by the EPA and use at your own risk.
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Old 11-30-2016, 08:01 PM   #3
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Welcome!

I take grey water to the trash one milk jug at a time.

Not a nad idea to pipe it to the tailpipe and let it vaporize, hmmm. Interesting approach.

Good luck!
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Old 11-30-2016, 10:20 PM   #4
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Dump it on the ground? Only if you are in an inaccessible wilderness area.

Considering the severe drought here in California in recent years, I have used gray water from my house shower, bath-sink, and laundry to water plants. It stinks. A non-starter, I would say.

Since it was mentioned.... I do Burning Man, and one year I had camp mates with their own shower and gray water collection in a barrel. At the end of the week, the barrel was too heavy to move, so they called on good-old-Elliot-the-fix-anything-guy.

It was necessary to transfer some of the content to a second barrel.
HOLY ROTTEN ROADKILL, how it REEKED! Took half a bottle of RV chemical to bring it under control, somewhat.

So.... Could you treat your gray water to de-stinkify it? Certainly, but first you would want to research what that chemical (or bleach) would do to plants and such.
And you would still have the public perception problem, which is a very big deal, I can assure you.

Sorry about the negative tone. But I'm trying to spare you future trouble.

Oh... and.... Welcome to the forum!
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Old 12-01-2016, 10:15 AM   #5
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This is all very strange to me. Lemme see if I can explain. First, everything I have read has told me that you cannot store grey water for more than 24 hours. Is this the "stinky" water you are talking about? Was it stored close to or over that time? If so, then it is black water because the amount of bacteria have increased to a level similar to that of black water. Thus the smell?

I had watched the video on burning man which was great but in the desert everything evaporates amazingly fast. Although evaporation methods might be practical depending on where you are at the time.

Also, grey water (as long as the major debris like from a kitchen sink is meshed out as some of you mentioned and it's less than 24 hours old!!!) is perfectly legal and environmentally friendly and in fact healthy to pour into the ground. This is why campsites, etc. say to dump small amounts of grey water directly into the ground around trees, etc. trying to spread it out so it doesn't pool. Pooling creates a wonderful place for mosquitoes to breed = not good.

I decided that the moral of the story is that you either have to store grey water and dispose of it at a legal dump site OR you have to be in a place where you an properly feed grey water into the ground on a daily basis like a forest or large grassy area. It could not be anywhere near a river or body of water. I do not want to do the former and I am too disabled or might not be in a place to take advantage of the latter. SO....

I have elected to go with a loop system. It is a water system that will essentially loop the grey water through a filtration system that will return it to drinking water quality (much higher quality that tap water) and back out again so I'm reusing water and thus eliminating all issues of storage or recycling. Me and a friend are working on the schematics as we speak. We also want to be able to occasionally dump the filtered water and replenish with rain water from a catch system just because eventually it will lose nutrients. So, we don't plan to loop water for more than two weeks, one preferably. Also, the filter system will have the added cost of replacement filters, likely every year, and the power draw from small pumps and UV lamps (also replaced yearly). So, much to consider in our little adventure!

We are considering this to be the solution to our grey water issues. I am one of those nutty spiritual types who thinks my water should have excellent chi or it's not worthy of being called water. ;) anybody got a chi meter? ;) So, if you're interested in how it all goes, I would be glad to post schematics and other information in a future thread on loop systems. Also, if anybody has other questions on why or how we're doing this feel free!

PEAS OUT!
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Old 12-01-2016, 11:35 AM   #6
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Yes. The gray water at my home collects in a tub before I open a spigot and fill a bucket to pour on plants. That tub is never dry. So even though the tub is filled and largely emptied every day or two, I expect something is "alive" in there.

And yes, the example from Burning Man was gray water that had accumulated for ten days or so. In the open scorching desert sun.

"Black water" is water and Stuff from a toilet.

I'm no biochemist, but there will usually be intestinal organisms in gray water, because we wash ourselves and our clothes with that water. Intestinal organisms are always everywhere, but it's a question of quantity. (Cloth baby-diapers are probably worst.)

Frankly, I'm amazed there has not been a major epidemic at Burning Man, what with all the Crap being spread with fountains -- literally fountains, in the case of the mechanical "evapotrons".

By the way, to evaporate water at Burning Man is a losing proposition. People keep trying, and failing. The event has a 30 - 40% annual turnover, which must be the reason people don't learn.
People keep building wide shallow evaporation ponds with black plastic sheeting -- which immediately turns light tan with dust, and evaporation slows to a trickle.

One year I had to stay behind and clean up such a failed pond after 25 people.
The procedure is to filter out all solids (with the shirt off my back, if necessary -- which I wound up doing, since every piece of cloth I had was quickly clogged.) Then treat the water with bleach -- letting it stand long enough to kill the harmful germs, and also long enough that most of the bleach has evaporate/converted so the bleach does not harm the natural life forms in the ground (oh, yes there are, even in the Black Rock Desert). Then sprinkle this widely so it does not form puddles or mud holes.
It took a full day -- dawn to dusk.

Now some good news: I am delighted to learn that "daily" gray water may be poured on the ground under the right circumstances.

As for re-using gray water -- looping.... It is doable, just as you say. And I have heard of a couple efforts to do this at Burning Man. It involved quite the "science lab" of fancy equipment. I have not heard any results.
If you can do it, I'm of course all for it. But there is hecka more to it than replacing a "swimming pool" filter once a year and shining a couple "grow bulbs" at it. For one thing, I seem to remember something about a big sand filter, to be refurbished frequently.
I encourage you to research this extensively, and thoroughly. One thing you can do is googling "ePlaya" plus the relevant search words. ePlaya is Burning Man's forum similar to this one, and it is huge. And please keep us updated.

Finally, and most importantly.... Thank you! for joining this forum and contributing very valuable discussion!
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Old 12-01-2016, 11:50 AM   #7
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awww. You're welcome, Elliot. Thank you for your input. And the reason grey water is technically black water after 24 hours is, generally speaking, the bacteria already in grey water will multiply to the point where it starts to rivel black water when it comes to bacterial contamination. Also be careful, grey water should never go ON plants but UNDER them. The soil and plant roots filter the grey water. There are a lot of rules on using grey water safely like no where near a living water source and making sure it doesn't touch the leaves, especially edible leaves, of plants.

And our loop system will be constructed with a "real" filter system LOL. I'll attach a video link to a shower loop. I am very environmentally conscious, only use biodegradable, organic products in my current home, etc etc. I am a bus conversion rookie but not a math and science rookie. Water is an important issue for me. How it is accomplished in the conversion will be nothing less than anal squared in spades. LOL. It has to be efficient, financially doable, environmentally friendly, as well as physically and spiritually healthy for humans and the planet. I won't settle for anything less.

When we actually get some schematics drawn up, I will be happy to share them, along with all the equipment used, etc. so that others can be free to copy our design should they choose.

Here's the link to the shower loop. In the conversion, it will be more complicated but this will give you an idea of where it all starts.

PS: so awesome that you stayed and helped out with all that Burning Man. I've never been but many of my friends go. So glad to hear the lengths you go to and the willingness to be so mindful of the environment and yes, i'm well aware of the little lives in the ground! I'm sure they appreciate your efforts, too! And thanks for the info on evaporation. Helpful. Also why we are going with filtration / loop instead.

PSS: Unlike in this video, I'm not going to use homemade filters or UV systems. I just don't trust it. I plan to use actual water filtration filters and UV filters made for the purpose. It's more expensive, but it's not debilitating. Several hundred dollars is worth it to me.

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Old 12-01-2016, 08:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
Welcome!

I take grey water to the trash one milk jug at a time.

Not a nad idea to pipe it to the tailpipe and let it vaporize, hmmm. Interesting approach.

Good luck!
Many yrs ago there was a RV waste system that pump black & grey thru the exhaust.
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Old 12-01-2016, 08:23 PM   #9
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LOL on your milk jug. if it's less than 24 hours old, and you are at least 50 feet from a river or lake or other water sources, and you don't let it pool, you can feed it to a tree instead. ha! seems a pain in the butt, but essentially it's not so bad.

and the tailpipe evaporation idea ain't bad at all really!

we'll let ya all know how the loop systems work out! thanks for the input!
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Old 12-01-2016, 08:44 PM   #10
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So Kerry.... I haven't watched the video or anything yet, but from the description it sounds like you're building a largish-scale reverse osmosis filtration system, do I have that about right?
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