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Plant rock filter for greywater treatment.

Greywater Systems
Re-Using the Resource

      After forming a plan to handle sewage wastes with a septic system or composting toilet, it is relatively easy to deal with all other household wastewater, called greywater. The easy thing to do, if connected to a septic tank or city sewer, is to let it go down the drain and forget about it. But greywater is a nutrient-rich resource that can help beautify a landscape, especially helpful in arid environments where water is scarce and potentially expensive.

Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction       Greywater systems can be very simple, like the hose my dad attached to the shower drain, or more elaborate, such as a whole-house drain to a centralized filter and underground distribution network. The best systems are those that treat the wastewater beneath the soil surface, away from human contact. But there is no need to make a greywater system too complicated. A low-cost greywater system can save thousands of gallons of water every year, enabling you to produce a more beautiful yard with less expense for water.

      For an overview of greywater systems, reedbed filter systems, and plant rock filters, check out Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction. For in-depth coverage of greywater systems, be sure to check out the resources below.

Recommended Guide Books and Videos

Create an Oasis with Greywater
Choosing, Building, and Using Greywater Systems
by Art Ludwig

Create an Oasis with Greywater book cover.

      Most of the world's aquifers are being pumped faster than replenished, and all reservoirs are slowly diminishing in capacity as they fill with sediment. At the same time, natural surface waters and groundwaters are being degraded by the wastewater continually dumped into them. You can conserve fresh water by irrigating with household washwater, called greywater. Greywater is the used water from the laundry, shower, sink, and dishwater. It may be reused for other purposes, especially for landscape irrigation to grow your own oasis while conserving water and reducing strain on your septic tank.

      It is said that there is no such thing as "waste," just misplaced resources. Greywater systems turn "wastewater" and its nutrients into useful resources. Why irrigate with drinking water when most plants thrive on used water containing small bits of compost? Greywater reuse enables you to do more with the same amount of water and to increase your water security. At the same time, your greywater reuse reduces the problems of supply and pollution for everyone.

      The new Create an Oasis with Greywater describes how to quickly and easily choose, build, and use a simple greywater system. The book features twenty types of residential greywater reuse systems in just about any context: urban, rural, or village. It covers almost every design variation on greywater systems, from the simplest to the most complex, and gives the pros, cons, and cost of each, both in dollars and environmental terms. Some can be completed in an afternoon for under $30.

      Create an Oasis with Greywater provides complete instructions for more complex installations, plus how to deal with freezing, flooding, drought, failing septic systems, low perk soil, non-industrialized world conditions, coordinating a team of professionals to get optimum results on high-end projects, and "radical plumbing" that uses 90% less resources. Topics include:

      * How to get clear on your goals, and how various greywater system options can serve you
      * Common mistakes and how to avoid them
      * Greywater plumbing principles and procedures in detail
      * Information on soils and plants, tools and parts
      * Original designs to improve the longevity of greywater systems, facilitate maintenance, and reduce environmental impacts
      * Real-life examples of greywater designs for a wide range of contexts
      Other topics include: Why to use or not use grey water, health guidelines, grey water sources, irrigation requirements, biocompatible cleaners, grey water plumbing principles and components, maintenance and troubleshooting, preserving soil quality , storing rainwater, compendium of common grey water errors and preferred practices, suppliers, and references.

      This 5th edition of the world's best-selling greywater book includes 50 pages of new text, photos, and figures, as well as the entire text of Branched Drain Greywater Systems. Do-it-yourself branched drains provide reliable, economical, sanitary, low maintenance distribution of household greywater to downhill plants without filtration, pumping, a surge tank, or electronic controls.

      If your project is going to involve permitting, inspection, codes, or building a system for someone else, writing or applying codes, or greywater research, you will also want the Builder's Grey Water Guide (see below). Create an Oasis with Greywater Oasis Design. Fifth Edition. 2006. 145 pages. 53 figures, 130 photos. ISBN 0964343398. Printed on 50% post-consumer recycled paper.

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Builder's Greywater Guide book cover.

Builder's Greywater Guide
Installation of Greywater Systems in New Construction and Remodeling
by Art Ludwig

      The Builder's Greywater Guide a supplement to The New Create an Oasis with Grey Water (see above), will help building professionals or homeowners work within or around building codes to successfully include greywater systems in new construction or remodeling in the United States, even if they have little prior greywater experience.

      The Builder's Greywater Guide helps you consider the pros and cons of various systems in context of the unique circumstances of your project to design a greywater system that optimizes cost, ecological considerations, and efficiency in a way that meets the legal requirements.

      Topics include: Special reasons for builders to install or not install a greywater system, flow chart for choosing a system, suggestions for dealing with inspectors, legal requirements checklist, detailed review of system options with respect to the new laws, latest construction details and design tips, maintenance suggestions, plus equations for estimating irrigation demand. The book also includes information on treatment effectiveness, sample codes, and permit submissions.

      The Builder's Greywater Guide includes the entire text of California's greywater law, with extensive annotations added to clarify the implications and possible ways to get a practical system through the cracks. The California greywater law is very similar to the greywater appendix in the Uniform Plumbing Code, which may apply in all of the US west of the Mississippi and several Eastern States.

      The newest edition includes new information on treatment effectiveness vs. wastewater application depth. Oasis Design, 2006. 8.5 x11, 54 pages, 8 figures. ISBN 0964343320.

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Laundry to Landscape DVD.

Laundry to Landscape DVD
A simple, efficient, economical, easy-to-use greywater system
with Art Ludwig

      Learn how to conserve fresh water by irrigating with laundry washwater! Rather than piping all the greywater from a house into one big, expensive treatment system, Laundry to Landscape demonstrates in step-by-step detail the simplest, least cost, least effort way to efficiently route water from the washing machine to the landscape. This is a do-it-yourself project that anyone can handle.

      Laundry to Landscape is an open-source, collaborative, state-of-the-art design initiated and curated by ecological designer Art Ludwig. Simple, elegant, and unpatented, it uses off-the-shelf components. The video covers site assessment, legality, biocompatible cleaners, diverter valves, routing the wastewater out the wall, anti-siphon devices, distribution lines, outlets, mulch basins, trees, multiple zones, and special situations, such as pumping up hill, steep slopes, rainwater, and freezing.

      Due to its inherent simplicity and low cost, it is the greywater system which promises to be most suited to professional installation by landscapers. In many parts of the world it is likely that someone could make their own small business based entirely on the installation of these systems. This video covers how-to basics for homeowners and renters. Ninety minutes in all, it also has extensive information on tools, parts, installation tricks, options, and special situations; enough for landscapers, contractors, and plumbers to install these systems as part of their green businesses.

      Packaged in an 80% post-consumer recycled cardstock case, printed with soy ink. DVD. 90 min. Oasis Design 2008. ISBN 0-9643433-8-X.

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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
See also: Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction.

      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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