How to Implement a Greywater System for Your Garden

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 14.05.2010

WARREN: Hi, I'm Charles Warren. I'm a User Experience Designer on mobile and welcome.
Thanks for coming. I want to introduce Laura Allen, who for many years has been a champion
of Greywater out of Oakland. She was the founder of Greywater Guerillas. You may be aware that
it used to not be strictly legal to use Greywater for irrigations, so she led a lot of the work
to cut those policy changes and things done. We're very happy to have her. And Greg Bullock
is a contractor and installer who build these systems. He's going to talk about some of
the ways you can go about and thinking through whether a Greywater system makes sense for
you. And I think they've got us--they're going to lay down the gauntlet for us Googlers.
So, without further ado, take it away Laura and Greg and thank you so much for being here.
>> BULLOCK: Thank you. >> ALLEN: Thanks for having me. I'm Laura.
I'm a co-founder of Greywater Guerilla's, now known as Greywater Action. Before we start
talking about Greywater, I want to think about--first thing, think about water for a sec. So I have
a couple of cups of water over here and I want you to--so the first one represents a
country. It's totally full; it's got 156 gallons of water in it. Anyone want to guess what
country what might use this amount per day, as per capita use?
>> The U.S.? >> ALLEN: Yeah, the United States. This other
cup, this represents a continent now and this is representing about 88 gallons per person
per day. So it's just residential use: cooking, drinking, watering their landscape, not agriculture,
not industry. Anyone want to guess what continent might use this much?
>> Europe. >> ALLEN: Yep. Europe. Europe on average uses
about half as much as Americans use and England is a really low water user. They use about
40 gallons per person per day. So, now this cup, this is another continent. It's representing
22 gallons per person per day. Any guesses? >> Asia.
>> ALLEN: Yeah. Asia. Yup. Now, we have another continent. This is 12 gallons per person per
day. Any guesses? It's Africa. And the last one, this is one of the lowest water-using
countries in the entire world. It's representing 1.3 gallons of water per person per day. Any
guesses? >> A country?
>> ALLEN: It's a country. Yeah. >> Rome.
>> ALLEN: You're close. Yes. It's Gambia. So it's one of the lowest water users in the
So, we just wanted to start with, you know, how much water we do use. In the United States,
we have a lot--we have a lot of water and we use a lot and so we're excited to talk
about some better ways to use that water. >> BULLOCK: Thanks, Laura. OK. So just picking-up
off that theme, a few more questions for you. Anybody want to have a guess at what the recommended
amount of water per person is recommended for basic sanitation and health needs, per
person? Charles, you should know this one. >> WARREN: Yeah.
>> BULLOCK: 13 gallons. How many people worldwide have no access to any water within a 15 minute
radius of their homes? One billion people. And how many gallons of raw or partially treated
sewage flows into U.S. waterways per year? Oh, exactly. Okay. And final quiz and then
we'll get on to some more content. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> That's everything, yeah. That's the whole management system across the country, yeah.
Final quiz. Who said, "Whisky is for drinking and water is for fighting over, fighting for?
Any guesses? Mark Twain said that. Okay. Back to you Laura.
>> ALLEN: So to start talking about Greywater, there was a really excellent report that came
out last year looking at the--can Greywater can really meet our needs and it's a non-potable
source of water. So if we look at how it can meet our irrigations needs, we can find that
it actually matches up really well. So there's two charts. If you just look at shower and
laundry water, these are--have average per capita use in California. And then you look
at the outdoor use for landscaping, there's a really good match. So we can just take all
that water instead off sending it to the sewer plant which often, you know, doesn't treat
it properly, often it does, but not always. We can use that to irrigate outside, things
that don't need potable water. And another thing to of note is, you know, how much water
is this? Like, you know, each household Greywater system like does it really--will it really
impact California water? And if we look at--this is millions of gallons per day of savings.
If people take that water and irrigate outside, you can look at just from washing machines,
how many millions of gallons you'd save, showers and washers and then all Greywater. And I
wanted to point you to one number that 10% column. If just 10% of people--and this is
just Southern California--re-use their Greywater to irrigate plants outside, that would off-set
the need for a medium sized desalinization plant. So, instead of, you know, looking for
new sources of water, we can look for this source we already have. So getting into Greywater,
one of the first questions is, is this legal? Like can I do this legally? And the regulations
around Greywater have been changing over the last couple of decades. Greywater used to
be viewed as sewage. It was part of just the whole water stream going down out of the house,
considered sewage, dangerous, you can't reuse it. And certainly over time it's been shifted
to be seen as a resource to be able to be used for non-potable sources. So in California,
we were the first State to have a code. It was written in 1992. And it was a code, it's
a plumbing code designed to allow people to reuse Greywater. But the way it was written,
it really was more of a disposable code and so people weren't able to do that--to use
--actually reuse it. They were kind of asked to dispose of it deep under the ground. And
so, between 1992 and 2009, pretty much all Greywater Systems were done without a permit,
which were--they were technically illegal because the code really wasn't in line with
why people want to use it, how it was practical to use. And so, there's millions of un-permitted
systems. And last year, a bit--a lot of--there was drought, there was a lot pressure of reducing
water. And so, there was a big push to rewrite the code and make it actually fit with Greywater
being a resource. And so, the Department of Housing and Community Development wrote a
new code. And a lot of people were involved in that to really make it so we could use
Greywater as a resource. And so, from last year and onward to the future, Greywater is
seen as a resource. And we're going to show you some simple and legal ways that you can
reuse it. >> Better safe than sorry.
>> ALLEN: Yeah. >> What's the legal way [INDISTINCT]
>> ALLEN: We'll get to that in one second. Yeah. Good. It's actually right here. So,
Greywater--who has heard of Greywater? All of you. So, anyone have a Greywater System?
>> Not yet. >> ALLEN: Not yet? Anyone interested? Couple
of you? Yeah. So, Greywater, it's from sinks, showers and washing machines. So its water
that's a little bit dirty but it's not too dirty to other plants. It's never from toilets
and it's not from washing diapers, so it doesn't have thicker matter in it. It's not like the
toilets, which would be not safe to reuse. Kitchen sinks, it depends on what state you
live in if it's considered Greywater or not. In California, kitchen sinks are not allowed
to be--we're not allowed to reuse that water legally. So I want to break Greywater into
three ways. The first one is for outdoor use. This is just taking the Greywater, sending
it outside. You're taking a shower, it's going out just directly and irrigating your plants.
So that's the simplest way to use it. It's low tech. We try not to have pumps or filters
or things that require maintenance and mechanical devices. The second way is also for outdoor
use, but this is a little different. It's taking Greywater and sending it through a
drip irrigation system, which is a lot more complicated because Greywater has hair in
it, has lint, it has little, you know, chunks of things. It's a little gunky. And so, if
you want to send that to drip irrigation, you're going have to really filter it and
get all the particles out. And so, then you just have a much more complex system. So it's
a really different way to use the water. And then the third way is indoor use. And so that's
for non-potable uses, such as toilet flushing, and possibly laundry washing. And it's also
a lot more complicated to get greywater back inside because it has to be filtered and disinfected
and it's pumped and it's connected to the domestic water supply. And it's really just
a whole other level of system. It's also not really allowed under the new code in any practical
way and so it's definitely a good resource for bigger scale projects like commercial
buildings. For residential, it's usually not very appropriate. And so, when you're thinking
about any type of Greywater System, the soaps and the products you use really matter because
now that water is going to your plants. So there's a couple of things you want to avoid.
You want to avoid any salt compound. Salts, you know, sodium, all of that will damage
the soil and damage your plants. You want to avoid boron or borate, that's also going
to damage your plants. And chlorine bleaches obviously, you know, kills things; you don't
want to send it outside. The next thing to kind of just get a little more informed is
there's a lot of chemicals in our personal care products that are really just not good
for us. And it's not really a plant issue or a Greywater issue, but it's often a good
time when people are going to reuse their water, they want to think about well, what's
in this stuff I'm using? And so, if you're interested in doing a little more researches
to database, it's called And you can enter any product and they'll
tell you what's in it. You know things are, oftentimes, it's kind of shocking to do this.
Any of you guys tried this? Not yet? >> No.
>> ALLEN: I think it's frightening, so be ready if you want to go down that route. But
it's definitely informative. You can find out all sorts of things about the products.
And then the other thing is there's products that are recommended. So if you don't want
to do lots of research, you know, we can tell you what products that we've researched and
found to have no salt, no boron and not a lot of other carcinogenic things that are
in a lot of products. So here are just a few examples like Oasis, Biopac, Ecos, Aubrey
Organics, there's more too. So, I'm going to talk about kind of some basic things with
Greywater and this is just for the first way that outdoor simple systems. And a lot of
times, it's really--Greywater is this unique source of irrigation. So that's kind of common
sense knowledge with other types of irrigation don't really fit with Greywater. So it's important
to kind of understand it and see the different kind of do's and don'ts of Greywater irrigation.
So the do's, the things you want to do is mulch. It's a really important component of
a system. You guys know what mulch is? Yeah, it's just like woodchips, you know, things
covering up your landscapes so it's covering the soil. Mulch is really important for Greywater.
You also-–you always want to have a way to go back to the sewer. It's called a three-way
valve, and Greg's going to show you one example in a sec. You want to use plant-friendly products
because it's going outside. And then you want to use–-I put a proven designing clothes
because there's, you know, so many different ways you could get your water outside. And
there's lots of ways people can tinker and, you know, get it to go out there. But if you
use a design that other people have tried and you can just get some recommendations,
it tends to work better and have less problems. So now, we have the don'ts. The first don't
is, they're very common error, don't store Greywater. If you store it, it has nutrients
in it, it has, you know, little pieces of gunk and stuff, it will start to break down
and it'll basically start to smell very bad. So you don't ever want to have it in a container
and store it for later. You also use--make Greywater everyday, so there's no reason,
practical reason to store it. You don't want to have a filter that you have to actually
manually clean because that's just a point of failure, people forget to clean things
if you need to have regular maintenance, so that's a not a good idea. You don't want to
use it if you're near a creek or a river. It has nutrients in it and those nutrients
can actually pollute. It's like a fertilizer. So if that gets into the water, it will cause
algae to grow and rob the creek or river of oxygen. So some sites are just not appropriate
for Greywater. And you also don't want to use it if you don't have very good drainage
on your site because you never want to have pooling of Greywater or running off. You need
to make sure it can soak properly into the ground to irrigate plants. And so the next
thing: mulch basin. Who's heard of a mulch basin? Got one person? Yeah, this is kind
of a common-ish landscaping technique to be water-conserving. It's making, putting mulch
around trees. It lets-–so what you do with the mulch basin is you go to the drip line
of the tree and you remove some soil kind of like a doughnut ring of soil removed and
you fill it up with woodchips instead. And this allows-–with Greywater when you are
going to irrigate with Greywater, it goes into that mulch basin. It can spread out through
all those woodchips. It gets actually kind of filtered in the woodchips naturally and
it soaks down into the ground and you never see it into some pool or run off. It's just
going underground and irrigating. So it's probably the most important piece of a Greywater
System. And it's not often spoken of because it's, you know, out in the landscape. It's
not a pipe; it's not a plumbing part; it's something you do to your landscape. But it's
really important to have a well-functioning Greywater System. And so, as that Greywater
goes into the landscape, the other really critical thing is something that you don't
really see. It's the billions of microscopic soil bacteria that are in the soil. They're
consuming nutrients; they're taking any kind of gunky, dirty whatever is in your Greywater
and turning it into plant nutrients. So they're really critical for a Greywater System. And
you don't actually have to do anything; you just need to have healthy soil. And I just
want to show you my favorite one. This is, you know, sort of not an exactly realistic
picture. So microscopic organism; this one is called the Tardigrade. Any of you heard
of the Tardigrade? Now, this little bitty microscopic organism went into space and it
survived space and it formed, turns itself into a cyst and can survive pretty much anything.
It came back to earth and reproduced. So these things are--you know, in the soil, there's
really strong organisms that can do just about anything like survive space. So we don't--if
we get our Greywater going into healthy soil, we don't have to worry so much about the nutrients
in it and the gunky stuff. >> BULLOCK: Thanks. So, the Tardigrades are
going to save us. Okay, we're going to take a little bit of a deeper dive now and focus
on one particular system, the laundry to landscape system. And I think the value of taking a
focus on this one is this is considered like the low-hanging fruit of Greywater Systems.
It's a great place to start. And I'll just run you through at a very high level here
how it's done. Firstly, obviously, as Laura had mentioned, we have to be careful about
what detergents or soaps we use in the first place. We have to use non-toxic ingredients.
And then we can re-use that water that's coming out of the washing machine, divert it--and
I'll show you some parts here in a minute--out to the landscape and grow food with it or
shelter or a beautiful backyard oasis. Really, whatever we desire in terms of our backyard
spaces or front yard landscapes, for that matter. Here's a little deeper dive; oops,
excuse me. This is a schematic of a laundry to landscape system. It shows you how the
plan would work in effect. Obviously, it's showing the collection plumbing here that
distributes out to the landscape–-thank you--out to the landscape and actually, emits
the water directly into the soil. And that connects with the mulch basins that we just
heard Laura talk to. So, the beauty of this system is that, well, for one, it has a built-in
pump. It uses the pump of the washing machine. So if there are any distributions challenges,
maybe you have a slight incline. There are some ways to overcome those challenges because
you have this built-in pump. Apart from that, no additional gadgetry is required. No filters
to break down, which is wonderful. So, if this is a design--well-designed system upfront,
this system will never fail over time. A very low tech, but high effective solution. So
rough estimate, this is a doable system for a somewhat handy home owner. It's not for
everybody, but it can be done. Material cost would run between $100 to $200 if you were
willing to do these yourselves. If you wanted a professional install, a good rule of thumb
would be about $700 up to about $2,000 depending on the size, complexity of the job. One thing
quickly to know, Greywater Systems are very site specific. It's very situational. So it's
important to kind of, you know, do those assessments upfront and obviously have a fair idea whether
the Greywater's a practical solution for you own backyard. Here are some pictures. And
just while we're looking at these, let me hand out some parts for you guys. This is
a beauty over here; this is--usually passed those rounds. This is a 3-way brass valve.
It's really considered like the heart of the laundry to landscape system. And it gives
us the ability to turn a system on, to take the water out to the landscape or to turn
it off or if you like back to the sewer line, if we wash in those dirty diapers or we're
using bleach or, you know, any of the potential health risk that, you know, may come from
pathogens in that water. So it's important to have that facility to turn it on-off. Other
key features to note here, the auto vents, anti-siphon device actually breaks vacuum
in a system. And the one inch diameter pipe is important because it's consistent with
the hose, typically coming at the back of the washing machine. So there are no alterations
with water pressure that could create some, you know, perhaps some foreseen problems further
down the line. We want to keep it nice, stable, and consistent. And then the system won't
let us down. Here are some pictures of an actual installation going on. We can see on
the left-hand side here, this is where the water is finally emitted. So these are the
actual mulch a basin that we talked about, it shows an emitter coming out here. The code
does require that water--grey water is emitted two inches below the soil surface. That's
a health and safety concern that we have to, you know, comply to. What we--kind of a clever
design on this system is that we actually reuse the plant pots then we buy plants from
a garden center. Cut the tops of them off. Cut a little hole about halfway up the plant
pot and feed the emitter directly into that. That has a really nice way of obviously protecting
the emitters. It keeps it suspended off the ground level. So it actually stops any root
growth that could over time, root grow into search of water and grow into those holes
and clog it up. And it also keeps it covered and keeps it identified. So overtime, you
know, there will be adjustments that you need to make to your irrigation zones. And this
is an easy way to mark them. What a lot of people do to make it a bit more aesthetically
pleasant is cover it with a rock or a natural stone of some kind. And then you have your
markers there, and you know exactly where the water is coming out. We do bury and stake
the tubing, so once that system is completely installed obviously there will be no visible
piping here. So that's partly buried and then covered with dirt and mulch over the top.
And the half inch irrigation line is just a way that we could--get to control pressure
and make adjustments if we need to, so the right amount of water gets to the right amount
of zones that we create. Here's a picture of a-–example of this emitter here that's
covered under a natural stone that is code compliant because its not accessible for children
or pets, two inches underground. And then on the other side there we can see an example
of a non-code compliant. It emits water on both grounds which--which isn't legal. And
just to wrap-up that on this example, this is a great example of a typical laundry to
landscape installation. Obviously, we stressed the importance here of labeling. That's for,
you know, education. It's information for those that are, you know, less familiar with
the system. They can obviously come and see which direction they need to switch the tap.
If you're obviously renting a home or you're selling it on, labeling is very important.
We can see here a very typical installation where the Greywater is--and this is on the
far corner, is focused on the trees. So we have six trees, I think, in the yard here,
and then a veggie bed in the middle, which is irrigated with freshwater. Important point
to note there is that Greywater is legal and completely safe for food grown above the soil
surface. So any food, like root-crops, obviously that are grown in the ground; Greywater isn't
advised and it isn't legal for use there. So focus on trees, vines, bushes, shrubs.
Quick breakdown of cost. This was a self install, about a $150. Fifteen gallon went into a high
efficiency machine. So, that's a 15 gallon load was the calculated how many loads a typical
household would do a week. And then distribute it based on the soil type, the size, and the
type of plants, and obviously the climate zone that the yard is in. That would be a
quick pause here and any quick questions on this particular example?
>> What about the temperature pressure that the water is coming up so hot, it could burn
flesh? >> BULLOCK: Yeah. My experience is hot water
to be avoided, particularly for young plants. Maybe, kind of, pull Laura into that too.
You have--do you have any advice on that one? >> ALLEN: Yeah, when it goes through all the
piping and then after it soaks to the mulch layer and by the time it gets to the roots
it's cooled down a lot. So I've never seen that an issue. But again, you wouldn't water
like seedlings or something very small and fragile. These are setup for more perennials
and larger plants that have a huge--a big area. So, if by chance it did damage one root
the plant would have thousands of other roots to draw from. So it's really, kind of, a non-issue.
But then we also encourage people to, you know, use warm or cold water too as it saves
energy. >> It never got into us--to only use the new
energy efficient washing machine and it says we should only use EGE detergents? Are those
compatible with, you know, non-toxic, and stuff you can use on your...
>> ALLEN: Yeah, definitely Ecos is a really common brand. The easiest to find that's Greywater
friendly and it's compatible with all the different types of machines.
>> BULLOCK: [INDISTINCT] Sell at Costco. >> ALLEN: Yeah.
>> BULLOCK: Ecos, yeah. It's a little easier. All right, thank you. Back to you.
>> ALLEN: I just want to show two other parts of this. So, in the outside, it's a tubing,
it's a high-density polyethylene, which is kind of a more environmentally friendly plastic.
And the emitters Gregg was talking about, they're not--they're really different than
like drip emitter. It's actually just an opening. This is a T, so its one inch by half inch.
So it's reduced a little bit, but it's still a half inch opening, so if there was hair
or lint, or anything it could fall out there, it wouldn't clog. So in Greywater emitter
it's not going to be the same as a drip emitter, this is more like an outlet for the water
to come through. And then also, I just want to show you, kind of, newer product for Greywater.
Well, it's actually for irrigation, but we're going to start using this. It's called "Blu-Lock."
And it's a--all the fittings and the tubing is all--the high-density polyethylene which
is just a better type of plastic. This is a PVC fitting, which is, you know, PVC is
the worst kind of plastic. So the next kind of system--now we're, kind of, totally jumping
to a different type of system. The other system Gregg explained was for a washing machine.
It was not altering the plumbing. The pump from machine was just pumping out the water
through its hose. And then, we just connected to that hose, the valve. And so it setup a
whole different system. We didn't alter the household plumbing in any way. This kind of
system from showers or sinks, this is drainage plumbing so you actually have to get under
your fixtures. So usually under the house, in a crawlspace, in a basement, maybe on the
side of your house if you have external plumbing and you're actually going to have to alter
the plumbing. So it's a totally different type of system and it has, you know, different
ways it's used. So this system, I'm going to show an example from my shower. This is--these--all
these systems require a permit, because you're altering your plumbing. So for this, the first
thing you have to do is identify what drain it is, make sure you have the right one. You're
going to cut into that, and install an--it's called a "3-way valve", but it actually just
goes in two directions. So these ones bigger because with drainage plumbing, the water
has to flow by gravity through either inch and a half or two inch pipes. So it's the
same concept as the brass one that went around. It's just bigger. This one is made out of
plastic. It turn--you turn the handle and it turns off one side or the other. And this
ones squeaks, so be ready when it comes around, and you can look inside and you see there's
a ball that kind of rotates and its shuts off one side or the other. So this would be
under you house. You can add a motor to this incase your crawlspace is really small and
you don't want to crawl down there to turn it. You can add a motor to this and run a
switch into your bathroom. That's definitely a possibility or if you can access it, you
just manually turn it. So, when you have that installed--like you can see in that picture
number three, the grey water comes in, and that can either go to this Greywater irrigation
side or to the sewer. And you just turn that valve, whenever you need to. If it's raining
outside or if you're going to bleach out your tub or for whatever reason you don't want
it to go outside. So the--I want to describe one kind of shower system, it's called a "branched
drain." And this one--the materials again they're a couple $100. It's a little more
usually than the laundry type system. Installation, it depends. You know, $1,000 to $3,000--the
complexity of it really depends on the yard. And the plumbing and there's a lot of variables.
And also--let me go back real quick to that other slide. You can imagine if you had a
concrete foundation, you can't get under there. So, in there are some houses you're at and
retrofits you actually can't use this type of Greywater System. You have to be able to
access the pipes. So assuming you can access your pipes, this system is a gravity base
system. So, there's--it's just flowing, it doesn't have any storage and it doesn't have
any filters again. It's a very simple and elegant system. How it works is the water
all flows out to one pipe and because you don't want to send all of your shower water
to one plant, you divide it up with flow splitters. [PAUSE] So we're using regular ABS drainage
plumbing pipe. So it comes in and this splitter divides the flow equally in half. So you now--how--now
you've half of your water going to one side and half to the other and you put in the second
one, maybe a third. So you're dividing up your flow into half, eights, quarters, sixteenth's.
And so you'd really want to match how much water do you use and then how much do your
plants want. And this is all going to be outside in your landscape. That little white thing
is a clean out. You can unscrew it. So here's a picture. This is an installation before
the landscaping was done. So you can see the Greywater is coming in. The flow splitter
is stationary on a brick. So it's level and then all the rest of the system is slopping
down. So you can see that future tree is going to be irrigated on both sides and that kind
of sunken area, that's going to be filled with mulch. So the Greywater goes to the mulch.
And here's another picture. This one is an existing landscape. So this type of system
it does take a lot of work to install because you're trenching and sloping and making sure
it's got a good slope, so all the water flows out. But once it's done, it's very, you know,
there's really nothing to break. No moving parts. It's just flowing out into your landscape.
You're dividing it up, you can see on the--on the right side, it's going to four different
outlet. That's from a pretty high used sink. So it's going to four different mulch basins
with some established fruit trees. And then the end where it terminates to the landscape,
that middle picture [PAUSE] so it comes into--this is called the valve box. It's an irrigation
valve box and Gregg described how to make this out of that plastic planter. You can
buy them or you can make them yourself. But the water comes in to the middle. This is
a ground level. So it's all buried up to here. The water's coming in. It's dropping through
the air so roots don't grow in and then it's soaking down into the ground. And this is
a place you can access, you can look in. You could cover this with the stone, you can see
on the left, that's an almost finished installation, so the pipe is still slightly exposed coming
to that valve box area to the drip line of the tree. And then on the right, that one's
totally finished. Everything's covered, there's a stone on top. And you really, you know,
can't see anything except for the--the access plant.
>> [INDISTINCT]? >> ALLEN: Uh-um.
>> [INDISTINCT] surround our place, the building [INDISTINCT].
>> ALLEN: Yeah. There's that box on the code, there's a whole turf of setbacks. You can't
be--I believe that it's two feet from a building, a foot and a half from a property line. There's
definitely a setback if you're near a water source or lots of other considerations. So
that's the details that you would want to research or ask your installer. [PAUSE] So
here's a kind of picture of a finished system. This is from one shower. Again it's all subsurface,
there's nothing to see, it's all gravity flowed. There's, you know, just flowing out by gravity
and there's no storage. So you're taking a shower, its being spread out through this
branch distribution system under the ground and soaking into the ground. And all those
blue areas represent where the Greywater coming out. In this yard a bunch of really--new fruit
trees are planted the same time as the installation. So you can see everything kind of small. But
all that will get really big. And this is in the front yard, so if people are walking
down on the street, they would really have no idea that this entire yard is being irrigated
by a Greywater. It's very, you know, subtle and discreet. Do you have any questions about
the branched drain system? Nope? Okay. So, let start really quick. Some common errors
and this is sort of from the legacy of systems of the past, you know, a couple of decades.
It's also, kind of, misappropriating information about other types of irrigation. So common
errors are storage tank, like having a big tank to store water, pump zealous, people
want to pump to the roof or the top of their property or all over the place and filters
that need changing. So I just want to show you one, kind of, example of someone's idea
and I want you guys to help--help them. So this person said, "I'm going to pump my Greywater
to the top of my property. Store it in two 500 gallon tanks, then gravity flow it down
the hill to irrigate through a soaker hose." Did you see any potential issues with this?
>> [INDISTINCT] water [INDISTINCT] wrong. >> ALLEN: It's all wrong? Well, you want something
specific? >> Now, I'd be specific [INDISTINCT] I suppose
to store it and I'm supposed to use a soaker hose.
>> ALLEN: Yes, soaker. You guys know a soaker hose is? It's--the water kind of whips out.
It's got a very, very small outlet. It's usually clogged just with regular water. So you can
imagine if you put Greywater into the soaker hose. It'll probably clog in like, I don't
know, 30 seconds? Could be a minute. Yeah and the top of the property, sometimes you
have to pump. If you have a hill, a lot of, you know, San Francisco homes or places with--on
hills, of houses down at the bottom all the landscapes beams up at the top, you do have
to pump. But usually, you want to pump just the lowest amount possible. So pump to the
plants you want to water and don't pump to the top of your property and then gravity
flow down. You've just kind of defeated the--the purpose of the pump. So there's another one,
but I'm going to skip that one. So really briefly, I just want to show you kind of the
other type of system. The more high--high tech, more complex system. If people want
to irrigate lawns or lots of really small plants that do need the type of irrigation
that drip irrigation performs, you're going to be looking at this other type of system.
It's called Sand Filter to Drip Irrigation. And this system, the cost to them really goes
up. You know, $7,000-$10,000, maybe even more. They're--they're really just a lot--a lot
more expensive and a lot more complex. And these pictures are from ReWater, it's one
of the oldest companies that does this kind of system. They, you know, they do lawns,
they do other things and you know, we encourage instead of lawns having other things that
you can water. But if people need lawns with Greywater, that's the other type of system
you'll be looking into. And just to give you, just as a quick kind of sense of the difference
in scale, here's a schematic. So the Greywater goes into a big--as temporary tank called
the surge tank. It's pumped out through a filter. The filter's automatically cleaned.
So it has to have special protection, so you don't accidentally pump the Greywater into
the clean drinking water side so it's called an RP or reduced pressure backflow preventer
in some cities, don't allow those. So permitting gets a lot more complex. But you do have,
you know, a lot of control. There's controllers that can say, "oh, there's not enough Greywater,
I want more freshwater to come in." So you really can have just--your Greywater can be
compatible with an existing--with a system that works like a regular drip irrigation
system. So you go on vacation, it's still getting watered. The other types of systems
just don't--they don't have this level of complexity to them. So I just wanted to give
you the--the range of that. And one example on the commercial scale, these, you know,
systems again are going to be more complex. So this is an example--the--a commercial laundry
mat is irrigating the whole kind of mini mall shopping area. This is from that company ReWater
in Chula Vista. So under that handicap parking space, there's a big underground temporary
tank that the water comes in to and then it's pump out, filtered to the subsurface drip
irrigation. So definitely possible, there are examples of big apartment buildings doing
this and other areas with this other type of Greywater system. [PAUSE]
>> BULLOCK: Okay. So let's cut and do a recap. Just over the--the highlights of the presentation
so far. You know, firstly it's encouraging you to think about what we traditionally think
of as a waste product, waste water and finding a resource for it again or a need for it again
and that's the first thing. You know, thinking about Greywater as a resource, saves us water
which is a scarce resource, obviously as we know in this state. Saves us money, saves
us energy and chemicals that are excessively used in sewage treatment plants, by the way.
It encourages healthy product use, so by thinking about the relationship of, you know, for instance,
what we--either wash our selves with, or wash our clothes with and the relationship that
it has with the soil and if you want to take it as far as what the food we eat. Well, you
know that whole cycle an education and understanding, well, ultimately encourage us to use healthier
products. We'll be more in touch with that--the implications of such. It does get us out on
our backyards which, I for one thing--is a good thing if we're surrounded by a lot of
busy lives and technology. So sometimes, it's--its nice to be out there in the quiet and the
peace. It facilitates local food production and community and I think this is a very important
point. Growing food, sharing food, gets us out of our suburban homes and--actually, kind
of, meeting each other again which I think will be an important step for us as we look
into the next 10 maybe 20 years. Greywater could be at the heart of that. It protects
our oceans and rivers. Its part of the solution as Laura said when we looked at the 10% desalination
offset could be a significant contribution. Ten percent across California is not that
much to ask for. So I want you to take away from this that there is something that we
can do that would make a difference. It redefines our relationship with water because we're
educated about it. We understand where it's coming from, where it's going to and we're
making significant improvement into that whole system of process. It does create green jobs.
I think, you know, very important obviously from where we are as a country, economically
and around the world, Greywater can be a huge part of that and I guess, I'm living proof
of that. It's legal, it's fun and it's inexpensive. So if nothing else will convince you this
afternoon, I promise you, it is those things. All right, so, onto the last part of our presentation
title obviously we've covered how Greywater can green a parched state. What could you
do as Googlers to help this situation? I think the first part of this obviously, we think
about reduce, reuse, recycle. So the first part of this is, you know, just conserving
water in the first place. How do we make slight adjustments in our, you know, lives that--can
reuse them, reduce the water we use in the first place. And not that we do use because
plants love Greywater, obviously we can reuse that for irrigation purposes. Another idea
that I want to leave with you, that we have talked to one or two inside Googlers, is the
opportunity here to do something with your onsite laundry facility, and redirect that
Greywater to create something beautiful and productive and wholly sustainable. I have
a picture here of a very beautiful established kiwi vine on a trellis. Just as a suggestion,
obviously, there's potential also for fruit tree orchards taking again something that
we consider a waste product, and giving it value again, and creating something beautiful
and productive out of this. So, were going to leave you with that and obviously you can
let us know if that's something that would be of interest with you. I'm also interested
if there is any other ideas coming from you guys today? Alright, thank you. OK, so any--any
other questions? >> You didn't mention that systems quite,
prior to 1999 were technically illegal. Does that include like things the cities were doing?
So it's all like Greywater systems like for irrigation and such?
>> ALLEN: It was pirated last year, 2009. There--It was possible to get a legal system.
There are, you know, a few exempt. There's estimated 200 legal systems versus 1.6 million
illegal systems. So, not that there were none, it's just that the percentage was very small.
And most of the ones that were done legally that got a permit they had an engineered design
and stamped the drawing so it wasn't really accessible to the average person. That's why
most homeowners or, you know, interested renters or whoever wanted to do it, they just did
it and they weren't able to do it legally. So the examples you've seen, they were probably
done legally but with an engineered design stamp which kind of removes liability from
cities. >> So I have a question on the same line.
It seems like that if you need to do this, you know, since we are on our own or with
lot of the laws are changing things in our system. What are the municipalities doing?
Like Greywater from--what Greywater from black water is, so to speak. And treat it enough
to use it as Greywater. Are new subdivision today require to have like, you know, a pure
water line and Greywater line before they give you the property? Are there projects
like that? >> ALLEN: There...
>> This could be done on a massive scale. Any new subdivision coming in has to have
Greywater for every property? >> ALLEN: Yes, some areas like Tucson, Arizona,
they have a mandate that every new construct--new building has to have it's, it's called a stub
out. So the Greywater is separate and there's a place to access it. That's the only place
to my knowledge that's done that. There's been a talk and general plan in other places
of doing that, and I believe some town--counties in California had done that in the past but
currently that's not just like a mass blanket thing that's happening but it--there are in
some examples and that's something that we should all be pushing for. For municipalities,
water districts are supporting Greywater in a few ways. There are rebates that are happening.
Sonoma County has some Greywater rebates. There's a couple of example like Santa Rosa,
City of Santa Rosa is... >> BULLOCK: San Francisco is developing a
rebate. . >> ALLEN: San Francisco is developing a rebate
program. There are some examples of that happening. Its still-- even though it happened last year,
it still sort of new that people can support it that way. The other answer to your question
on the large scale; there's reclaimed water or recycled water which is different because
it's all the waste water, everything together; industry, toilets, everything goes to the
plant. They treat it, then they have a higher treatment process to treat it to tertiary
standards and they pump it back through purple pipe. And that's just another--it's a--it's
a different type of situation. But there are--that's happening. Getting that water is--they only
gave it to really large water users because it's expensive to run that new pipeline back.
>> All the island irrigation through out the years...
>> ALLEN: Yeah. >> All this reclaimed water.
>> ALLEN: Reclaimed water, yeah. >> So, I mean it's possible on a massive scale.
So, I'm just wondering why aren't provisions being made to do that?
>> ALLEN: I think it's the infrastructure cost. It's very expensive to win--like if
you imagine a city that's already built to get that-- a new pipeline they have to dig
up this--all the street everywhere and bring it back. So it's very expensive to do that
but it is happening. Greywater is a lower cost decentralized alternatives. So, you can
just keep the water that you're using, use it appropriately match the needs. And you
don't know need to treat it to that level and send it all the way over there and then
all the way back. So, it's a different alternative. >> I know that in Bureau, they actually take
Greywater to flush toilets. But according to what you said, does the period (ph) requires
storage which you do not recommend? >> ALLEN: Yeah. So there's--the question is
about using toilet flush--Greywater for toilet flushing and in Europe it is very common.
The storage, it's an--if you're using it for outdoor irrigation, you don't want to store
it, you want to just use it. For toilet flushing, there will be some temporary storage that
water is filtered, it's disinfected, so it's treated to be able to be stored. So, in a
resident, if you're irrigating outside, there's really no reason to do that. You wouldn't--so
it depends on the context. And in Europe, there's--and in Australia too, there's companies
that will sell you like a mini treatment plant that will fit like in your basement or, you
know, if your apartment building and then, you know, garage and they will treat the Greywater
to the quality needed to flush toilets and there's several companies that have been very
successful. The regulatory climate of the United States is not very supportive yet to
that. So, it's kind of we're taking baby steps, you know, from now, we can do sub-service
outdoor irrigation legally and the next step will probably be indoor use with appropriate
regulations in place. >> So as you--as you can see that right now,
I don't know how complicated this problem... >> ALLEN: Yeah.
>> ... Probably might be. Possible is to get permits but we just decided that [INDISTINCT]
if we kind of flush the toilet and our toilets, like, 1.5 gallons [INDISTINCT] this whole
system for essentially like 5 gallon a day. >> ALLEN: Yeah. And for toilet flushing, rain
water is a much lower hanging fruit because it starts out so much cleaner. So more--around--in
this area, systems that collect rain water then they used it to flush toilet, that's
a lot better. The regulation for California residential Greywater says it's basically
you have to treat it to the same quality as the reclaimed water plant does and--which
is daily testing and its--its just economically unfeasible for people right now. But that's
something, again, that will be changing I think in the future.
>> BULLOCK: And you can store rainwater. >> ALLEN: Yeah.
>> BULLOCK: So, it kind of gave you that added advantage. [PAUSE] Any other questions? Thank
you so much. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.