In Houston, there are rules about greywater systems and how that water is used. Filtering the water is required if the water will be reused inside the home, but what about outside the house?
Have you ever bought a handmade soap at a farmer’s market or an event dedicated to a green lifestyle? There are grocery stores which also sell these soaps. There composition is different than commercially available soaps, so you can use them for your hands or your hair. They also will not hurt your plants. When you have a greywater system, then you do have to worry about what goes down your drain, because that stuff down the drain will be effecting you in some other way. If the water is going into the garden, you may not need to worry about much of the debris in the water; however, you do not want to be poisoning your plants, particularly your vegetables.
As I am starting to build my own greywater system, I am concerned about what is going down my drain. I do not shove the food scraps into my disposer (the city of Houston discourages this practice), but a little food does go through the disposer. Also, what may my children pour down the drain in their experiments? Although, I am concerned about the health of my family, and I do try to purchase products that will not harm the environment, my budget does cause me to purchase less than acceptable material. I am trying to be better. My wife is convinced that certain products work better, and she insists on using them. I know that I do not want them in my garden. Habits are hard to break. I think it is quite possible for people to become concerned about their health, and therefore to use products that will not add harmful elements into their environment, but being realistic, most of us will continue to use products that are cheaper. This means that filtering the water going to our gardens is a good idea.
If I was reusing the greywater in the home, then I would have to filter it. You will not be using the greywater as potable water, but still these chemical and debris could effect the plumbing and fixtures in the house. Working with the filter from my fish tank, I was thinking of making a filter like that one. I like the idea of natural filters that you find in swamp areas. I could grow cattails which are edible and filter the water. Even though I have not come to the point of needing the filter yet, I am thinking that it may be a better option to purchase a unit that is already on the market. I was contacted by a distributor of a new greywater filter system in the United States, and it may be a good one to have. Their website is good at explaining the filter, so you should check it out.
At this point, I am starting by planning out how and where I want the water to flow. I am also trying to expand my rain collection system. I did not want to divert the water from a sink to the garden when there is no means of distributing the water. Since I have been redoing my garden beds, that also leads me to rethink my initial plans for the greywater. (You can read more about my Houston garden). I am laying out the irrigation system first, then I will tie the drains of the house into it. I will need three filters for my house, since I will be creating three zones. Trying to bring all of the greywater to a central point does not seem practical to me. More problems would ensue. The one fact that I need to check is about the meter. If you look at your water bill, you will see that you are billed for the water in and the water out. If the water is not going out, will they place a meter to measure that fact and bill me appropriately? I knew a homeowner who did this many years ago, so they may still do that meter. That could be nice to have.