Water & compost system

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Skywoolf, May 14, 2009.

  1. Skywoolf

    Skywoolf Junior Member

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    I am starting on working out the planting and water systems for a house lot and would like to describe what I am doing for others to point out if I am doing anything stupid

    The house will be at the back of a 30 meter deep, 166 meter wide lot that is maybe 10 or 12 feet lower at the front edge than the back.

    Close to the house on one side I plan to have a 20 foot diameter tilapia pond that gets all the rainwater from the roof after it waters the planter boxes around a large roof garden (with overhead trellis for vine plants to create shade). The overflow from this tilapia pond goes to a much larger tilapia pond that also has water veggies.

    On the other side of the house is a 30 foot x 10 feet pond planted with rushes and reeds for about half its length and I guess partitioned with overflow pipes between sections. Grey water from the house goes to here for the reeds and rushes to filter the water then the other half has water chestnuts, taro, kangkong, etc.

    What I plan then is two banana, coconut, papaya circles with raised compost in the center and a small pool underneath to collect the "tea". The overflow from the large tilapia pool flows into one and the overflow from the grey water pool flows into the other.

    Then the overflow from the compost pools feeds a simple swale system going to three or four banana, coconut, papaya mandalas with pools in the center of each.

    Doe this make sense or am I dreaming?
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    Hi Skywoolf,

    Sounds like you have a plan detains water high in your landscape, then meters it out slowly through a series of pools and plantings down hill.

    Questions: Where does your house water come from before it becomes greywater? Will you have enough rainwater and greywater to keep the flow going to the lowest plantings?

    OBTW, dreams are good too!
     
  3. Skywoolf

    Skywoolf Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    Thanks, There is plenty of metered water supplied to the house. It has no additives or anything. It is just clean deep well water as far as I know but I don't want to just throw water away when it can be used.

    The amount of rainwater and greywater at this stage is unknown. It seems to me that every day in Davao is very similar. It is hot and sunny all day then rains for a while, sometimes with a thunderstorm almost every evening. Of course there are dry days and wet days and occasionally dry spells. The house is at the top of a hill so there will only be rainwater and metered water.

    I want to raise fish in the ponds so it just seems to make sense this way. I will have max min water levels in the ponds so if the water is really needed for crops I can let more water out.
     
  4. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    With that much rain, you should be able to collect rainwater from the roof for household use and disconnect from the metered supply completely. It sounds like a great plan, though - putting water to work multiple times before it leaves your property.
     
  5. Hamishmac

    Hamishmac Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    Skywoolf,

    The fundamentals sound good to me. Thinking beyond the water alone, can you confer further lighting/cooling advantage by pond placement: ie using reflected light off the pond to illuminate a shady area or add extra light to a particular bed; or using wind-over-water cooling properties? Although I imagine that air humidity would be a limiting factor where you are (Davao in Phillipines?).

    In addition, the shape of the edge, whether regular circular or irregular, can give you more edge to work with, if edge is your thing. You can dig "fingers" of water from the pond between raised beds, for example (google waru waru).

    Regards,

    Hamish
     
  6. Skywoolf

    Skywoolf Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    I seem to be on the right track so far. Many thanks for the advice. The weather here is almost always around 30 - 36 C in the daytime cooling to 25 - 30 at night. I expect the heat to be problem for some plants so some shade will be beneficial I guess. Yes the humidity is normally quite high so I wouldn't expect too much evaporation from the ponds.

    I am planning to use the ponds for small scale fish farming and for growing water loving vegies like kamote, taro, water chestnuts, etc so the shape will be irregular to create the right conditions for fish and plants. The fingers are certainly something to look into and think about.

    I had forgotten about using water for natural air conditioning but that may be difficult with the house being at the top of a hill. Even on very hot still days there is some breeze coming up from the sea (The land is on an island and a mile or two from the sea at the closest point). There are no typhoons in Davao and strong winds are uncommon so I will need to use air movement as much as I can. It is far cooler standing under a tree there than in my current home in a village but I guess I should look at using the water for cooling also.

    I think my biggest remaining concern is the grey water. I have read dozens of forum messages and articles all over the web. Some say it is safe, I can grow food plants in it and use the water for the Mandala circles planted with veggies. Others say it will kill the plants, maybe cause horrible diseases, etc. Considering the dozens of lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc my wife uses and the possible problems with detergents, bleach, water softener used by my girl friday it may be best to scrap the idea of using grey water.

    I am planning the land, the house, the ponds, etc all from scratch (Modifying house plans that are close to what I need) so at this stage there are no restrictions other than cost. An indoor waterfall for cooling would need the water to be pumped to the top but even a small river through the lounge and family room is possible.
     
  7. Hamishmac

    Hamishmac Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    Skywoolf,

    Can you keep the grey water and just change the wife and Girl Friday?

    Or would that just be exporting a problem elsewhere?

    Hamish :p
     
  8. Skywoolf

    Skywoolf Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    :mrgreen: I would like to teach them not to dump the wrong stuff down the drain but I have a feeling they would forget very quickly.
     
  9. scottdavies

    scottdavies New Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    Hi, I also have read horror stories about using greywater etc, and I know the local council would skin me if they knew i used it for any purpose. however, the question I have is, in developing countries china vietnam in question use all human waste directly onto food crops, when we visit these places we eat it and more so alot is exported, so these pathogents etc must really be difficult to contaminate foods??

    Computer Repair Mascot DatumIT.com.au 83390758
     
  10. AustBodhi

    AustBodhi Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    It's not really that difficult for foods to become contaminated... one only needs to think of 'Bali Belly' for the potential for pathogens to pass between people in these situations. Also, whilst the locals eat it seemingly without major incident, that's becuase the kids who were strong enough survived to become adults (who are relatively immune to the local strains), those that weren't died as infants. Often in these countries infant mortality from water/food borne diseases is quite high.

    However that doesn't mean we can't use any of these things, we just need to be mindful. Generally speaking, using grey water for sub-surface irrigation to perrenials (think fruits, nuts, timber, biomass) causes very, very few problems. It's not normally reccomended for annuals though in the studies I have seen the risk factors were pretty low. The key was sub-surface irrigation rather than above ground use.

    The thing one really needs to keep an eye out for is contaminants. Shampoos, soaps and some other things can bring in salt, heavy metals, etc... The heavy metals can be accumulated by food plants, and then ingested by humans or animals. However if you are using grey water from your own home then you can monitor/educate to avoid this...
     
  11. Skywoolf

    Skywoolf Junior Member

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    Re: Water & compost system

    Good info. Thank you. I have changed my plans so that all grey water goes to the septic tank but passes an external junction. This way I can add the filter beds later and easily divert the water.

    At this stage, using grey water is not necessary but if water supply does become a problem the plumbing will be ready for it.
     

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