Council approval for kitchen grey water systems

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by jennibelle, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. jennibelle

    jennibelle New Member

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    My partner and I are in the process of sorting out the details of a house we're going to build in south-east NSW, Australia. The biggest problem we've found so far is greywater systems - the Council hardly batted an eyelid when we described earthbag walls, but are very reluctant to talk greywater, citing concerns about the risk to public health (you'd think the risk of running out of water would also concern them, but apparently not).

    After many lengthy conversations we're good to go with mulch pits for bathroom/laundry, but running out of options for the kitchen that meet our conditions of being nature-friendly, cheap, and able to be built/substantially repaired by us. After a lot of searching I found a manufactured system from Ecoflo - NatureClear GWS10. However, at over $1000 I can't help thinking that an old bathtub carefully filled with layers of mulch and worms would be just as effective for a tenth of the cost, and easier to fix/expand/update over time.

    I've found quite a few people in Australia (1, 2, 3) who seem to have done DIY versions of this, but I haven't found anyone who actually got Council approval for it. Sidestepping the council on the quiet isn't an option for us as we need development approval for the rest of the house anyway, plus if no one bothers then their opinion on grey water systems will never change. It has also occurred to us that it's worth staying in their good books as we'll likely want approval for various other things over the next 10-20 years.

    So my question is - does anyone know of a similar grey water system anywhere in Australia that has been Council approved? Or, does anyone have tips for the approvals process?
     
  2. Australian Beekeeper

    Australian Beekeeper Junior Member

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    I feel your pain. We had to go a hstp (home sewerage treatment plant) as a minimum for toilet and kitchen. Kitchen water is actually black water not grey from memory which is why you are having trouble. Hstp currently sucks because it needs a pump to run (maintenance) and a drain field due to our smaller block size (just over half acre). I am confident I will get rid of the drain field in the future though (change to irrigation setup) which will make it a relatively good option. Expensive though. What are you doing for toilet water?

    edit: can get pics if needed.
     
  3. jennibelle

    jennibelle New Member

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    Toilet will be waterless composting toilet - Council was reluctant initially on this one but have since caved as NSW Health allows for exemptions to registration for owner-built models. The criteria are pretty much that you have common sense and have done your research, which we have. However the backup is to buy the closest equivalent to what we would build.

    We know that for regular grey water (bathroom/laundry) we're allowed to implement the system we want, to simply drain to the garden so long as the water level stays covered (with, say, mulch). But for the 'darker' kitchen water we need to get the system approved and it has to go through a treatment stage first. Hence the EcoFlow NatureClear GWS10 - every other treatment system I found had either nasty waste products, or needed regular maintenance from licensed operators. Compost as a by-product is much better, but I object to spending $1000 on a commercial system for which I have to pay someone to fix when it fails, when I know of people who've DIY'd it for much less and have a thorough understanding of the system they're using.
     
  4. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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  5. grantvdm

    grantvdm Junior Member

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    Hi Jenniebelle, I'm not from Australia, but remember that Geoff Lawton mentioned in one of his Zatuna Farm Tour videos that Lismore Shire Council (or something like that), had recognized/approved/endoresed (not sure 'bout that) his grey water system that they use on Zatuna. Recalling this from memory after watching the tour videos for the...crap can't remember how manyth...time now last week...Maybe you can look into them and ask them about the whole grey water thing? Hope you get it sorted. I'll be sneaking behind council to get mine in though, better to apologize for something you've already done, and then get it approved (my opinion here in Namibia...)
     
  6. Errol

    Errol New Member

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    Australian council. If you want to build sounds like your eco flow is a pretty good option. Other systems I'm looking at are in the 10s of thousands, I will check out your option. You can always divert it after the fact, and have your eco flow thing available for resale. Keep us posted on what happens!
     
  7. Beaverlee

    Beaverlee Junior Member

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    Jennibelle - I don't know how far "south NSW" you are, but you might get in contact with Peter Hickson. He's the president of the Earthbuilders Association, and he has a lifetime experience in alternate building considerations. Following him on Facebook is constantly eye-opening. He's very approachable. I'm still asking questions about our mud-brick build 4 years after going to a weekend workshop with Peter in Nowra.
     
  8. Mirrabooka

    Mirrabooka Junior Member

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    Art Ludwig of Oasis Designs is the greywater guru in my view, books with very helpful explanations
    (forget about Blackwater, and anything requiring a pump),
    and a reminder that many bathtubs leach LEAD- do a Google search- so the bath needs a LEAD check before installing a Bathtub worm farm treatment plant
     

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