Saturday, June 04, 2011

Farm Life - grey water

Two days ago was the last of the rain. Traditionally we won't see water falling from the sky again until the last two weeks of Augusts.

It's time to start watering the plants.

So that we don't run out of water during the summer, we have a grey water system just for watering the plants. Grey Water is water that has been used for things like washing clothes or dishes, but is still safe to use for watering plants and such.

It's not toilet water - that's called brown water and goes directly into the septic system.

The water from our kitchen, bath and laundry go into a separate tank near the house. From that tank we can pump the water into buckets or, if we are watering the garden at the bottom of the hill, we use a hose that is gravity fed.

The overflow from the grey water is purified before it returns to the brook and pond. Flowing through a series of 8 small ponds with different plants in each, that purify the water, and the small waterfalls between each pond that aerate it.

We can quickly tell how clean the water is by measuring how many mosquito larvae are in each pond and by how healthy the plants are doing. The ducks take care of the mosquitoes before the little bugs get their wings, so no worries there.

The best plants we've used so far have been the Marsh Marigold and the Water Iris. We also have a couple of types of reeds that flourish under these conditions. You want plants that like a high nitrogen content.

The most important thing about having a Grey Water system is that you don't use any chemicals that might alter the delicate balance in the water tank or that might harm the filter plants. For example, chlorine bleach is out of the question, but Hydrogen peroxide is quite alright because it degrades into non-toxic substances. Same goes for shampoo, dish soap, laundry soap. Note the lack of 'detergetns' which often have fillers in them that are either harmful in themselves or degrade into harmful substances over time.


Josiane said...

That's a great system you have set up there. I love how complete it is, down to the ducks eating the mosquito larves that are in the ponds before they can grow their wings!

silverroseknits said...

That's really cool! I've seen this done on a larger scale--our water treatment center in town has a huge amount of land for doing it to water that they can--but it's really great to see it can be done on a little smaller scale too. It makes me want to try it out one day in the future when I have the land to do so. Thanks for sharing!