Recycle Greywater Graywater

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Irving, Texas, report on graywater recycling class 
by Terry Jensen.

What the state (TCEQ–of course) decided in 2005, unfortunately, appears to be expensive for a retrofit and not at all natural or in any way like Permaculture. To me, It is actually a small septic system with all water kept underground. 

The system must have dual valves so it can be returned to the sewage system in times of rainy weather. And under no circumstances is graywater allowed to pool, pond, or runoff the property. They are particularly concerned about runoff since it will eventually get in the surface waters (lakes) that supply potable water and would cause water to be harder to treat. 

The good news is that all graywater can be used to water non-root vegetables after it has been “treated.” Condensate from the A/C system can be delivered above ground. And they do allow recycling of bathroom sink, tub/shower, and now the washing machine. 

The average person, according to speaker, will produce about 40 gallons of permissiblegraywater daily. 

No permit or inspection is required if under 400 gallons of water daily from a single-family residence–unless someone complains about it–which I think would probably be from odor or excessive runoff. Odor comes from bacteria death (lack of oxygen) when you keep graywater more than 2 or 3 days without releasing to soil.

And again, these are state requirements–not county or city requirements, which can require permits and be more stringent, but not less so. Irving does not require a permit but asks that people bring their plans into the plumbing department to see that plans will actually work before installing and then having to modify. At this time, I don’t think they are charging for that advice.

I would say this is a good thing to do with new construction but not as a retrofit since it requires replumbing the house. Maybe a good retrofit with pier and beam, a slab seems hard. But reusing the A/C condensate does make sense because it can be delivered above ground. 

And disappointing that you can not do this above ground and allow plants and soil to clean this water. I am not certain it can’t be done that way with a TCEQ permit, although I don’t know what your chances are of actually having a permit approved. 

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