Greywater for food production

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Greywater for food production
Author: Phil
Saturday, November 26, 2005 - 12:39 am
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I've read that greywater (if filtered) can be used for food production. Joe seems to not agree with this (could you expand on why you've chosen not to use it?). Anyone else have any personal experience with greywater and food? It seems like too good a resource not to use in garden watering, especially in low-rainfall areas.

Author: admin
Monday, November 28, 2005 - 9:21 pm
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I'm sure it can be used for food production if the water itself does not come into contact with the foodstuffs (for example, the water can be used to water roots of trees or plants by being piped underground). This is because when you wash the parts of your body that are in the southern hemisphere, so to speak, fecal material (for example) can be carried in the wash water. You don't want that on your tomatoes.

Joe

Author: TCLynx
Saturday, December 31, 2005 - 10:44 am
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Another issue with using grey water is that it will clog perferated piping easily and the surge from a washing machine can be too much to deal with. Also hot water can be hard on plants. I was doing some studying on grey water systems. There are some rather elegant complex systems out there but many of those cost alot and fail or are abandoned. They generally require duplicate piping since you are supposed to switch over to the septic or sewer system if anyone in the family is ill. Also washing cloth diapers makes the discharge from the washing machine count as black water.
Many locations have regulations against using grey water. Some places insist you run it through a septic take first, which by it's nature will make the water unpleasant and unsafe for surface discharge, and then discharge it through a leach field. Well no gain there.
Some of the new airaited septic systems say that the discharge can be place shallow enough to benifite plants but those systems are $$.

There is a website somewhere about grey water systems. They state that there have been no documented cases of illness from use of grey water. That said, it is still wise to wash all food that comes from the garden and better yet use grey water to water trees and shrubs. The easiest, least $$, and least likely to fail types of grey water systems involve using a flexible pipe or large hose that can be moved from mulch pit to mulch pit. The mulch pit would have a tree or other planting growing from it and be big/deep enough to contain the discharge from say the washer and be filled with mulch or gravel. After that wash is done, move to the next planting. Takes some management. Other systems involve carrying the buckets out from the sink and tub to water the plants by hand.

Any storage of grey water for more than part of a day will allow it to turn septic and then you really get smell and health hazard.

Any filtering of grey water requires maintianing the filter system.

Here is any easy trick, I'm putting a shower outside and planting some things around it. Granted, that only works where/when it is warm enough to use an outdoor shower.

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