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Greywater Guerrillas

Paul Pollets
Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
Dave Yates will love this...we've done 2 systems under special permit to store rainwater for irrigation only...


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  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2
    Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2 Member Posts: 377
    SEO seeks out & terminates GWGs

    Ha! Greywater Guerillas indeed. We have a customer with a 1,000-gallon poly greywater tank he built his new addition around/over. Major stink-farm! I tried explaining a proper venting system, but he's one of those guys who doesn't want the info. Kinda brings tears to your eyes to be in the basement.

    Round these parts, we have Sewage Enforcement Officers. One in particular takes his work seriously and enforces with gusto. Got himself fired from one township when he cited one of their local officials regarding grey water discharging from the ACW. One of those it ain't good for the goose, but let's make all the ganders hook up to the SS. The SEO saw it differently & figured the rules should apply to everyone. Problem was it was the old Golden Rule rules - he who has the gold makes up the rules(G). That was a case where the gray water was being discharged onto a roadway & running off of the township manager's property.

    I'm all for grey water re-use if it's held on the property, is not an eyesore (like old bathtubs parked in yards), it doesn't emit odors that waft across property lines to offend neighbors, doesn't run-off to pollute waterways and is not used for growing crops (unless treated via a certified method).

    Plumbing lines carrying/transporting grey water for re-use must be properly colored/labeled and there are backflow issues to address if potable water is utilized to "top off" tanks or tied in with any direct connections.

    At ISH two years ago, a grey water recycling company was given an award for its total approach for capturing grey water, treatment and subsequent re-use. Their motto included something about "using water twice". The booth had a shower running into a drain that led to the grey water recycling unit with a distribution network of piping feeding a water closet, ACW and hose bib for washing the car. Makes perfect sense if you ask me.
  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2
    Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2 Member Posts: 377
    Article from ISH 05 in Contractor Mag with links

    This one dealt with rain collection and grey water reuse.

    Feature article submitted to Contractor Magazine from:
    Dave Yates
    Serial print and electronic rights as per contract
    Copyright: Dave Yates

    Pennies from Heaven

    Potable drinking-quality water comprises just one-half of one percent of the earth’s available water! Millions of people throughout the world will go without a single source of clean drinking water today. We’re seeing areas of our own country that have reached, or are already in, the beginning stages of a full-blown water crisis. Large-scale desalination plants are being tested and built to generate potable water. If you live in a home with a roof over your head(s), you have a natural conduit for gathering, maintaining and utilizing nature’s hydraulic cycle – rain water!

    At ISH, there were numerous vendors displaying “regenwasser” collection, storage and use systems. They ran the gamut from decorative columns to plain-Jane tanks for above grade; to underground storage vessels designed for direct-burial that incorporate man-ways for accessing components. A common theme seen with each manufacturer’s presentation were the following construction details: screening out organic debris and man-made objects like tennis balls, which are ejected via a side debris eject or chute – while allowing uninterrupted free passage of the water; gentle entry of collected water to promote settling; pumps with screened floating suction-intake to draw water from the most sediment-free upper layer while preventing any large particles from entering; filtration and UV (ultra-violet) sterilization are typically utilized just ahead of entering the home’s distribution system. Chlorination is discouraged due to the presence of organic material, which can combine to create chlorinated hydrocarbons, a carcinogen.

    A quick rule-of-thumb for rainwater collection systems for system-wide plumbing use is to size the container for 30- to 55-gallons-per-day-per-person (using 1.6 GPF water closets). In order to calculate the vessel’s volume, you’ll need to gather average rainfall data for your area and measure your roof’s square footage. The roof’s pitch will cause the volume of runoff to increase as pitch increases due to rain often being wind-driven. For example: a 4/12 pitched roof has a multiplier of 1.05. Another quick rule-of-thumb for collection capacity is to take one-half of the roof’s square footage and multiply that by the average annual rainfall. National rainfall maps can be utilized (http://www.noaa.gov/climate.html), but your local TV stations will likely have accurate data that may be a bit more precise. An average rainfall in excess of 24-inches will be adequate for you to be self-sufficient if your storage vessel is large enough to tide you over between storms. Virtually all of the eastern half of the US and many parts of the western US have annual rainfall in excess of the minimum.

    Roof materials can be a concern. Wood shingles can leach chemicals; asphalt shingles can release petroleum products; metal roofing may be coated with lead-based paints (lead is readily adsorbed through skin during bathing); and there is always the issue of animals like squirrels and birds leaving deposits behind that will be mixed into the collected water. Materials other than metal can support and foster mold, bacterial and algae growth too. More advanced rainwater collection systems have built-in features to “waste” the first bit of roof run-off to greatly reduce contaminate collection. Metal roofing sheds more rain that do any of the other materials (about 10 to 15 percent more).

    Local plumbing code authorities may have reservations about your use of rainwater for a primary or secondary potable source, which may be partially driven by a perceived loss of revenue as many sewage treatment bills are based upon gallons delivered via the municipal water meter reading. Other concerns may center on issues about maintaining potability. You may want to point out that all potable water began its journey to your home as rainwater. With filtration and UV sterilization built-into these modern automatic systems, the only remaining issue (beyond roofing products) should be standardizing maintenance and that’s an area ripe for maintenance contracts. Well-maintained systems that are properly designed and installed by professionals will not pose a threat to the potability or our customer’s health.

    If they’re worried about water quality with rainwater systems, wait till they have to face the issue of recycling gray-water! The notion that every flush of a water closet utilizes drinking-quality potable water has always gone against the grain of common sense. As water becomes a more precious resource and expensive commodity, alternative sources will inevitably become widely accepted and utilized.

    While at ISH, I visited with Pontos and had an opportunity to discuss gray-water recycling issues. According to Pontos (www.pontos-online.de), a subsidiary of Hansgrohe AG, gray-water (free of any fecal matter) collection from residential use more than adequately meets demand for the following uses: flushing toilets; washing clothes; watering gardens; and washing vehicles. The Pontos motto “Use your water twice – it’s the smart way!” certainly makes cents to me. Pontos coupled a rainwater and gray-water modular collection system to serve a residence and beauty salon, which was chosen for its higher-than-normal demand for flushing toilets and almost-constant use of clothes washers. Pontos’ combination recycling system was awarded the ISH 2005 Innovation Award for Architecture and Engineering!

    My first concern was regarding odors from collecting and storing waste-water, but that’s handled through natural bacterial processes without the use of chemicals. I next inquired about solids, soaps, grease and hair as they’re all going to be a naturally occurring issue in any gray-water system. No problem – they’re collected and rejected to the home’s black-water drainage system. Bacteria in the delivery “polished” water stream? Nine danke! That too is dealt with by UV sterilization. In fact, the delivery water is in full compliance with the EU Directive for bathing water (http://europa.eu.int/water/water-bathing/directiv.html). Well, ok then, the expense has got to be a real deal-killer, right? Wrong again. According to Pontos: “Currently, the annual savings after deducting the low operating and maintenance costs for the AquaCycle system is €570 ($730.00 US). This means that considering all of the factors, the purchase of the system will, in all probability have paid for itself in only seven years.”

    Keeping up with demand isn’t an issue either as they have models ranging from 238 to 3,302 GPD (gallons per day) recycling capacity. One advantage gray-water holds over rain-water is that it’s not dependent upon weather patterns.

    They’ve also tracked costs for plumbing the drainage to separate gray- from black-water lines and have seen a historical average of €400 to €600 ($512.00 to $769.00 US). All water lines carrying recycled water must be clearly marked “not drinking water” and made discernable along their entire length by a distinct color.

    As plumbing contractors, we share an obligation to protect not just the health of the nations, but also the environment. Our code bodies will need to readjust their stance on gray-water recycling systems as this newer technology enabling clear, clean, odor- and bacteria-free water emerges. Conservation of natural resources, reduced demands placed on sewage treatment and delivery of municipal potable water, plus working in concert with Mother Nature – that’s about as good as it gets. Even Mr. Natural would be striding along with a smile on his (by now) grizzled face!
  • Bob Gagnon plumbing and heating
    Greywater Guerrillas

    I like that term. I'll report from the front lines. I have been flushing with recycled shower water for a month and a half now. I didn't add any chlorine or enzymes to the tank to see how bad it would get. It took about a month but it stunk bad, like Mark E. and Hot Rod said. We have to avoid that. I added a chlorine tab to the tank a few days ago and it smells a lot better. I'm also getting about 25% heat recovery off the greywater before I send it out to the sewer.
    I like the term Greywater Guerrillas because there is a Renewable energy Revolution going on right now, and we need more soldiers. Mad Dog was the latest to join up on Memorial Day, are YOU going to be next? You will sacrifice a lot of time and money, but some of our countrymen and women are sacrificing a lot more. If you believe only a fraction of what you read, you must know this is a worthy cause. Uncle Sam Needs YOU! As columnist Thomas Freidman proclaims, "Green is the new Red, White and Blue.
    Thanks, Bob Gagnon

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  • Bob Gagnon plumbing and heating
    Jump on in

    The Greywaters fine! One thing I forgot Dave, in a way, greywater recycling can help protect the health of the nation. I was on vacation in Florida last winter and they were mixing brackish water in with the municipal water supply, on top of that, the hotel I stayed in had toilets that had to be 10 gallon flush. We have to change our way of thinking.
    Bob Gagnon

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  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_1

    I am in total agreement. The latest issue of Newsweek has an excellent set of columns on the global water crisis.

    The theme of The World Solar Congress held in Florida several years ago was "Bringing Water to the World". There were seminars on gray water recycling and others dealing with potable water world-wide issues I had an opportunity to attend. The Newsweek articles barely scratch the surface.
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