My Basic Greywater System

An overview of my basic Greywater system.

 I’m cheap and hate wasting anything so I got to thinking about greywater, my laundry area is on the back porch and had been just dumping in the backyard because I hadn’t tied it into the septic system yet. I had to install a surge tank which collects the water from the washing machine and allows it to be released in a slightly slower manner into the drip system.

The drip system came from Irrigray and is designed to handle greywater, it came  with a filter, 5/8″ poly distribution line, and 150′ of 1/2″ dripperline with 4 gallon per hour drippers built into it every 12″. My orchard area has a slight N-S fall to it so I ran the dripperline 1′ north of each line of trees, these lines are run E-W and therefore end up being spaced 4′ apart.

To cover the drip lines I hauled in enough ground up tree trimmings from the tree service companies to cover the entire orchard area to a depth of 6″. The system has been operating now for 4 months. I can go anywhere in the orchard and pull back the mulch, even dead center between twosets of lines, and the soil is moist and full of worms. The filter is a 400 micron filter and it is claimed you only need to clean it twice a year, I have cleaned it twice now and neither time did it need it.
 I am currently using ECO brand laundry detergent, it is supposed to be Bio-Compatible rather than Bio-Degradable. From what I have read the difference between the terms is that bio-degradable just means that the substance will break down into it’s component parts,whatever they are, when exposed to the elements and bio-compatible breaks down into environmentally friendly components. The main reason though that I chose this brand as opposed to Oasis, which is the main one you find recommended on the web, is that my local Costco carries it.

Isn’t that a nice picture? This is a view looking down into my surge tank, on the right you can see the black ABS drain pipe coming from the washing machine. The white 3/4″ PVC just below the drain pipe is connected to an automatic sprinkler valve. My son, who lives in the house at The Fruity Chicken, currently doesn’t do enough laundry to supply the water needs of the orchard. Rather than install a parallel irrigation system I ran this line to supplement the greywater, currently this valve is set to run for 2 minutes once a day.

14 thoughts on “My Basic Greywater System

  1. Teresa says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and liking the post on deboning chicken. I hope you find it helpful and that you try out some of the recipes some time. If you do, please let me know how they turn out.

    • Max says:

      I ran into several of your other recipes while cruising through the poultry topic, your posts are really well done! I plan on processing some roosters as soon as the weather breaks and have been looking for a way to tenderize a tough old bird, this looks like the ticket.

      • Teresa says:

        Thanks. If you have an abundance of meat you can cook it down and freeze it in 2-cup or 4-cup containers (the amounts for most casseroles) and then just pull it out when you need it for a recipe.

  2. Your sis shared your blog with me! Hello from Oklahoma! 🙂 paula

  3. P.E.A.C.E. says:

    What a great set-up! Thanks for the info about ECOS as well. I use it and like it but hadn’t looked into Bio-“Compatible”. I am enjoying reading around your blog. Very informative 🙂

  4. missysgarden says:

    Thanks for following my blog. I hope to post more this year! Where a bouts in Vegas r u?

  5. Scott Mauer says:

    Great greywater system! I’d like to get something similar happening for my trees here in Austin.

    • Max says:

      Thanks for the positive response. As all of these things tend to be my system is a work in progress, I was reading about wicking beds the other day and it hit me that I basically already have the components in my beds. I am thinking that the dense clay soil under my raised beds should be giving me the same effect with my gray water irrigation lines running on top of the clay but under the 6″ of good soil my veggies are growing in.

  6. sirrka says:

    Neat system. In Colorado, it is illegal to use your grey water like this because all the water belongs to the Utilities. If you hire a plumber to mod your house, he can get in trouble, so if you do anything like that, you have to do it yourself….and take it apart if you sell the house. My hubby doesn’t want to put in a grey water system as we live in the city. I I have to improvise where I can. This year is supposed to be even drier than last year. I intend to put buckets in our shower to collect any water I can. It rains so rarely here in the summer.

    • Max says:

      We face the same issues here. My State Assemblyman introduced a well thought out common sense Gray Water use bill this year, he generated local support from both sections of our State but still the lobbyists for our local water utility successfully amended the bill to actually ban instead of facilitating use. So technically I guess I am a “greywater guerrilla” and have done all of the work myself. Thank you for checking my stuff out!

  7. Nice system! I am going to use a similar surge tank as you, and I wondered if you had any issue with bad smells? I was told that if the surge tank does not drain completely, any standing greywater (from washing machine) will begin to smell later in the day. My surge tank is in semi-shaded area, and I live in SoCal with coastal type weather.

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