Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Grey Water Guardian

Today I put in a grey water line from my washing machine to the three very old grapevines out on the east side of the house. These grapes must have been planted by the original owner back in the 50's. The trunks are old knarled things about 8" in diameter. They put out the most delicious small purple grapes.

This year, for various reasons, I didn't water them at all and to my surprise in the spring, they burst forth and soon were covered with grape clusters. Hmmm...how could this be? Did the roots hit the water table? Nah. As far as I know grapes don't have deep tap roots and the aquifer is down at least 200 feet. Then like a scene in a Polanski movie, my mind did a zoom into the bathroom on the east side of the house, then panned to my imagined best possible location of the septic tank, following on to the leach line and ending up with a hand held of the grapes. Now that's some permaculture thinking on the part of the first owner. And if that's the case, if they are drinking off of the leach line, then they are also simultaneously feeding off the nitrites in urine thereby mitigating the impact of nitrates on the aquifer! I'm loving it.

To give them a little more of a boost, I decided to send them some washing machine grey water as well. I use only biocompatible (forget biodegradable) detergent which actually gives plants some micro nutrients. Fortunately, like most places in Landers, there was already a grey water line in place but it just spilled onto empty ground. So, follow along with the pictures to see how I went about it (the only picture missing is the one of me in tears of frustration from heat exposure and dehydration).

Grey water line runs underground and emptied to the
left and downhill from the grapes. I cut the line so it spills
out to the right and next to the first vine. Then I dug an
8" deep trench from the grey water pipe
parallel to the vines.
Grey water line and the new trench.

I cut a matching size pipe to length of trench and drilled 
a single line of 1/4 inch holes every 6 inches. Would 
have preferred a larger capacity pipe but didn't want
to deal with the coupling issue.

With holes down, I covered pipe with sleeve
(you can get them at Home Depot)
to keep out sand and roots. Secured at both ends 
with a cinched wire collar. 

Laid pipe in a bed of gravel, leveled the pipe and attached
it to the existing grey water pipe. Gravel makes it easy to level
 and also helps with drainage. I will finish it off by completely 
burying the whole length in gravel. Make sure you have an 
overflow coupling that is a bit above ground at the end of 
the pipe and attached at a right angle to it. I'm also going to 
put in a sieve at the washing machine drain hose to keep 
debris out of the greywater line.

Final touch - the Grey Water Guardian.