IT IS FINALLY HAPPENING. After dreaming of a gray water system for years, we installed the purple pipes at Shane's watermelon house today. Why do we put off small sustainability projects when THEY ARE SO SATISFYING TO FINISH?
Last month Shane and I took the free Laundry to Landscape class at Urban Farmer, taught by the delightful and brilliant Kat Sawyer. (check out that post.) She even came to our homes to give us personal gray water consultations.
Armed with her knowledge and the starter supplies from Urban Farmer L2L class, we measured, glued and drilled our way to a smokin' hot gray water system. Once you get a taste for diverting water away from the sewer, you don't want to stop. Now Shane's orange, apple and fig trees will be able to bare plump, juice fruit in the middle of this dusty drought.
I posted on FB plans to attend the Laundry to Landscape class and 2 friends joined me! No time like the present to save water. After completing the L2L class at Urban Farmer you qualify for a $125 rebate towards a $175 L2L starter kit. (larger gardens might need to buy more supplies like pipe.) Also, Kat, the instructor will come to your house for a graywater evaluation!
In Southern California, there has been success with a similar program, and the biggest positive feedback from users is that they can now have fruit trees.
L2L is a great option for grey water because you do not need a permit. (a permit is needed if you cut into plumbing and there is also a $225 rebate for plumbing permit)
The class booklet, available online, was based on the book “The Wise Water Home” written by the Gray Water Gorillas.
The basic idea is that you install a 3 way valve onto the output of your washing machine and connect it to pipes that lead to the trees or bushes in your garden. At each emitter point, a small sink of wood chips is set up to help with drainage and catch the debri. If you have a flat yard, your washing machine can pump up to 50 feet.
Kat, Shane and I pumped up for some gray water action.
Bury the purple lines so that kids won’t drink. L2L works best for fruit trees. Tomatoes ok but not root veggies or lettuce.
Most areas of the city are great for L2L but 30th and Church is on a shallow water area.
You cannot use powder laundry detergent only liquid. Oxi Clean ok.
Check the washing machine pump – clean it out. A bit of a hassle but doable.
Set up has anti- siphon valve. Best to install outside the house to not confuse the inspector. Also best if it floods then it will be outside.
L2L is not best for lawns because that set up needs more expensive hardware.
Check mulch once a year for roots, hair, etc. Discharge is skin, lint, hair, and the mulch catches it.
SFPUC customers pay for wastewater, estimated amount is set at 90% of initial water usage. Homes with large gardens connected to greywater can contest this amount but for our small gardens in SF it is unlikely that we can lower this charge.
The next week Kat came to my house for a design consultation. She was super interesting to talk to and runs Groundswell Rainscapes and Tap the Sky.
She also promotes the Water Shed Project and works with SFUSD to install rainwater systems SF public schools - over 20 so far. SFUSD is a large landowner and the SFPUC encourages them to make water conservation efforts.
I can’t wait to chat with the principal at our school to see if we can cut a garden into the asphalt.
(SFUSD wants a core sample of blacktop to see if there is lead or asbestos in the asphalt or in the covered soil. The individual school has to pay for it, but there are grants to pay for the rest of the work.) Kat even offered to come to our school!
Tips for our house:
Lemon tree might not be getting enough water think about extending the hose or adding another bamboo pipe Add bench around the lemon tree would look nice.
Bamboo, it was recommended to varnish the bamboo but she suggests like a linseed oil treatment instead. Her final recommendation is that our yard is too small for laundry to landscape. Better to get front loading washer and drop water usage down from 40 gallons to 20 gallons a load. Plus there is a $150 rebate for the new washing machine.
I wonder if I set up a L2L system I could water my garden PLUS three of my neighbors gardens…..
Raised a feral hippy child in New Mexico, this dumpster diving compost lover wants to help green your home.