Welcome[edit source]

I get notified whenever this page is edited. I encourage you to post your ideas, comments and criticisms here; If something has caught your interest, it's likely that others would benefit from the resulting post/discussion.

If you feel the need to contact me personally about this project, use this email: goodsignal at appropedia dot org

Regards, Gabe. -GoodSignal 13:21, 16 June 2007 (PDT)

Initial comments[edit source]

This is great! I am so excited to see the details that go with this awesome outline. I wikified the outline (to the 4th level deep), although maybe it should be wikified deeper (just keep adding ='s). What do you think? Maybe it is easier for you to work the other way, so the text outline is still at the bottom, and you can always just revert to your last save.

Thank you for getting this going, it is a great addition to the knowledge base on home greywater systems. --Lonny 11:58, 14 June 2006 (PDT)

who is the contact[edit source]

I am interested in finding out more about this project. I live in santa rosa, not far from occidental. I would like to talk to the person, or group, who did this project.

thanks Mandeep waris12@yahoo.com

power consumption of the air pump[edit source]

I called airtech and gathered some info about the air pump. I am assuming you used the JP40C. Its rated at 300 watts. Assuming that this is the only air pump used to supply all the aeration needs (both the drums and storage tank) and that it runs 24/7, it comes to about (300 x 24 x 30 ) 216Kwh per month. Lowest rate for 1kwh in our area is about 11 c. So it costs about $23.76 per month to run this pump. Could be more if you cross into higher tiers.

I am interested in recycling grey water but storing it in a pond. Any idea what type of aeration pump will do for just the 4 drums.


Does the pump HAVE to run 24/7? Seems like overkill, and a huge energy user (couldn't be practically used on off-grid alternative energy systems, it would need at least a 1000 watts worth of solar panel. not cheap.) --Naught101 17:30, 12 January 2008 (PST)
I think this calls for a page on non-mechanical methods of aerating water - e.g. allowing the water to run over gravel, or a tiered waterfall (making sure there's proper spacing to allow splashing). Don't know how effective it would be, and of course it depends on how much height difference is availablebut it shou ld at least reduce the need for pumping. --Chriswaterguy · talk 18:12, 12 January 2008 (PST)

No, I believe the air pump installed on this system only uses about 50 Watts. Here's a link to its specifications: Airtech 40. It's more than sufficiently aerating 700 gallons. GoodSignal 20:59, 12 January 2008 (PST)

Airtech40 Spec

Some Questions for cleaner water[edit source]

Great project here.

I have some questions. How do you initially seed the bacteria when starting a new cycle every season?

I just buy a bottle of Roebic Laboratories K-87 soap digester and split the bottle between the drums and reservoir. Look over the section, Beginning of season, one more time. --GoodSignal 08:52, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Will adding some ceramic noodles such as the ones used in an aquariums help to sustain the bacterial colony?

I'm not familiar with the ceramic noodles you are referring too. Maybe you could provide a link or describe them further. If it's media designed to create more surface area for bacteria to adhere to, then I would recommend it. Otherwise, I would go with one of the types of media available for sale (a couple of links provided below). Providing surface area significantly increases the number of thriving beneficial bacteria, allowing for more efficient system. --GoodSignal 08:52, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
One method that I haven't tried yet, but would be thrilled if someone ventured to experiment with is: Using the plastic in your recycle bin as a bio-media. I would cut of the bottoms of a bunch of plastic bottles and stuff all the pieces in a few mesh bags -- like the ones that onions and potatoes come in when you buy them in larger quantities. Then hang the mesh bags full of plastic cuttings in the drums (maybe not the first drum though). Cutting the bottoms off the bottles is essential because we don't want to create any water pockets where oxygen from the aeration can't flow freely -- any pockets that aren't sufficiently aerated have the risk of becoming an anaerobic environment. Using the mesh bags makes periodic cleanings so much easier -- just hoist the bags out, spray them down, clean out the drums, then drop the bags back in when finished. I would like to see this work because all the material is free, and most of us have access to a relatively endless supply of empty plastic bottles. --GoodSignal 08:52, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
If you have some money and want to go with a product designed for this purpose, consider the following products:

With just aeration for the bacteria to feed on, will this be enough to produce a non hazardous water for flushing toilets?

I believe that depends on the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the reclaimed water coming out of the system. If the BOD is low (I'm sorry I can't tell you how low it should be) then I think it would be a great use for the reclaimed water. But if the BOD levels are high, then you risk creating an anaerobic environment because water sitting in the toilet's tank and bowl is stagnant between flushes. An anaerobic aquatic environment will introduce very unpleasant odors. --GoodSignal 08:52, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

When it comes directly from the reservoir If I add a UV sterilizer, similar to the aquariums to the water exiting the last drum and before being stored. Will this help to kill any remaining hazardous bacteria?

Very likely. The effluent from the system I built is, optically, very clear; So, I think UV treatment would be effective at sterilizing the water. However, keep in mind that whatever dead bacteria that are left in the water are essentially nutrients that new bacteria (if introduced) would likely feed on. A COD (chemical oxygen demand) test would give an idea about how much nutrient is present.
I'm sure any manufacturer of these UV treatment systems would be glad to give you vast quantities of literature to tell you all about it. --GoodSignal 08:52, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for all the details.


Is chloritnated tap water a concern?[edit source]

Thank you for your feedback.

The ceramic noodles I mentioned are the same as Bio-glass filter media. However, I think I will use many cut pieces of pvc piping glued together to form a mesh, since the amount of the bio-glass media required for 3 large barrels would make it too expensive.

With several layers of this pvc mesh, it should create enough surface area without creating any anaerobic pockets since the water and air bubble can freely rise from the bottom to the surface while passing through the mesh. Also, these layers could be easily removed for cleaning and re-inserted.

That sounds great! Please take photos and document your pvc mesh creation (along with the rest of your system) and post it on appropedia. I would certainly like to see the mesh, along with the rest of your project; and I know others would benefit too. --GoodSignal 15:25, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

I was also thinking of using one of these automatic aquarium feeders, filled with powdered benign bacteria (not fish food), to top up the bacteria automatically on a weekly basis. This should ensure that the bacteria colony is thriving.

The only times I have had to reseed the beneficial bacteria was after system cleanings and after heavy duty cleaners were used and rinsed down the drain without remembering to switch the drains to the septic lines first.
Using an automatic feeder would certainly ensure that the beneficial bacteria is present. I don't discourage it at all. I have found however, that as long as the environment is favorable for the beneficial bacteria (aeration, nutrient rich water, and surface area), they tend to stick around and thrive. Re-seeding only seems necessary occasionally. Additionally, bacterial cultures tend to specialize to their particular environment. I wouldn't doubt that specialization happens in these gray water reclamation systems too -- even specialization from drum to drum within the same system as the nutrient levels and particulate matter change along the way. To encourage this specialization, I would even suggest pulling a court or two of water from the drums prior to system cleaning, then reintroduce them after the cleaning is finished. --GoodSignal 15:25, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

My last concern is, since the tap water we use is slightly chlorinated by the water company, do you think this will have an negative effect on the bacteria colonies? The water supply for the shower and sinks which will be my main source of Greywater is stored in a classic roof tank, so I guess the chlorine would have degraded by then. What do you think?

I don't think you have anything to worry about regarding tap water chlorination. Even if you didn't have the roof tank (where the chlorine has a chance to off-gas), there is so much aeration in this system that any residual chlorine would quickly dissipate to the atmosphere. --GoodSignal 15:25, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks once again.

Keep up the good work.

Rgs Etienne

UPDATE[edit source]

You may find some initial details of the project over here: http://web.archive.org/web/20200209073824/http://www.meond.net:80/

The site will be updated when I have some more free time.

Rgs Etienne

Question about the barrel[edit source]

A question was asked about the barrel here: User talk:Triwalla. The user hasn't registered their email (no "E-mail this user" link) so I don't know that they'll see an answer, though. --Chriswaterguy 10:13, 20 March 2012 (PDT)

I got the barrels for the Occidental_Greywater system from a local cannery. I think the particular barrels I used originally contained vinegar. The barrels are a waste product for the cannery, but there is enough reuse demand that they usually sell them. GoodSignal 19:48, 30 March 2012 (PDT)

Additional Questions[edit source]

Asked on 2015-06-09
1) Why did you choose the system you have now?
2) Did you do any experimenting with a sand/charcoal filtration system. Would you consider adding this in addition to your current system?
3) Would adding or subtracting barrels/chambers to the system improve/or hinder the system? How did you decided to use 4 barrels? I have seen several other systems with less.
4) Does the system emit any odors?

1) I chose this system based on the two major criteria points. Water storage was necessary and it had to be very easy to maintain.
2) There are several reasons that I wouldn't use a sand/charcoal filter.

  • Charcoal is out of the question because its purposes is for removing chlorine and Volatile Organic Compounds, which is generally done for drinking water. Converting greywater to drinking water without a government certified facility is illegal, and for good reason. And since we're just watering decorative plants, that would be an unnecessary expense.
  • Sand filters are messy and require frequent cleaning. Cleaning sand can be a significant maintenance issue.
  • Cleaning generally requires clean water for back flushing which is can be expensive when water is in short supply.
  • Without frequent cleaning, it's liable to smell bad.
  • The bio-film that develops in sand filters only stay effective if there is a constant supply of water passing through. It can't dry up or the bio-film dies and has to be rebuilt. Household water use patterns are anything but constant.

3) Each additional barrel is progressively cleaner than the last. At a certain point however, the benefits diminish. Water coming out of the second barrel is still rather dirty. By the fourth barrel, the difference in clarity is remarkable. This system could probably get away with three barrels. My preference would be to add some form of easily cleanable biological media for the ecosystem to adhere to in the fourth barrel. I think this would have a greater affect than any additional barrels.
4) It smells mildly sweet. This is typical of a well aerated system. If it ever smells foul, that's a sure indication that pathogens are rampant and something needs to be fixed right away. Bad smell means the grey water has turned to black water. This can happen if the flora of beneficial bacteria gets compromised by excessive chemicals poured down the household drains that kill them off. The flora can be re-seeded with off the shelf products. Bad smells will definitely happen if there's not enough aeration. Good aeration is a key ingredient for the success of this system.
--GoodSignal (talk) 10:27, 9 June 2015 (PDT)

Short Link[edit source]