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Greywater System

Simple and cheap greywater system – sourced from https://www.milkwood.net/2012/10/16/building-a-simple-biological-diy-greywater-system/

What is Greywater?

Greywater is the wastewater generated from household activities like washing dishes, doing laundry, and taking showers. It’s different from “blackwater,” which comes from toilets and contains human waste. Greywater can be treated and reused to water plants, reducing water waste and supporting a sustainable permaculture homestead.

Building a Greywater System:

  1. Collecting Greywater:
    • Start by identifying sources of greywater in your home, like the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and washing machine. These are good sources of relatively clean greywater.
    • Connect pipes or hoses to these sources to collect the greywater. Make sure to include a valve or diverter to direct greywater either to the garden or to the regular sewage system when necessary.
  2. Filtering Greywater:
    • Before using greywater for irrigation, it’s essential to filter out any large debris or particles. You can use a simple filter made from a bucket filled with gravel, sand, and cloth to trap solids. The filtered greywater will be cleaner and safer for plants.
  3. Treating Greywater (Optional):
    • While filtering helps remove solids, some people choose to further treat the greywater to make it even cleaner. Treatment methods can range from using natural filters like reed beds to more complex systems involving pumps and biological processes. For a simple system, filtering is usually sufficient.
  4. Distributing Greywater:
    • Once filtered, you can distribute the greywater to the plants in your permaculture garden. A popular method is to use a “mulch basin” around each plant. Dig shallow basins around the plants and pour the greywater into them. The water will gradually soak into the soil and nourish the plants’ roots.
  5. Choosing Plants:
    • Not all plants are suitable for greywater irrigation. Select plants that can tolerate or benefit from greywater, such as fruit trees, ornamental shrubs, or certain vegetables. Avoid using greywater on edible parts of the plants that come into direct contact with the water.
  6. Safety Precautions:
    • Always use biodegradable, eco-friendly detergents and soaps to minimize harmful chemicals in the greywater.
    • Avoid using greywater on plants that are sensitive to salts or chemicals, and don’t use greywater from sources contaminated with hazardous substances.


  • Regularly clean and maintain the greywater system to ensure it works efficiently.
  • Monitor the soil and plant health to ensure the greywater is benefiting the plants without causing any harm.

By building a greywater system on your permaculture homestead, you can recycle and reuse water, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle. Just remember to be mindful of water quality, plant selection, and safety measures while creating your greywater system.

Building a greywater recycling system using three chambers is an efficient way to treat and reuse household wastewater. Each chamber serves a specific function in the treatment process. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to construct such a system:

Materials Needed:

  • Three sturdy containers or barrels (plastic or metal) with lids
  • PVC pipes and connectors
  • Fine mesh or fabric for filtering
  • Gravel, sand, and activated charcoal for filtration
  • Hose or tubing for distribution
  • Valves or taps for controlling water flow

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Collection Chamber:

  • Choose the first container to act as the collection chamber. This is where the greywater will be initially collected from sources like the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and washing machine.
  • Connect the sources to the container using PVC pipes or hoses. Ensure a tight and secure connection to prevent leaks.
  • Install a filter at the entry point of the container to remove large debris and particles. Use a fine mesh or fabric to create the filter.

2. Filtration Chamber:

  • The second container will act as the filtration chamber. It receives the greywater from the collection chamber, and its purpose is to remove finer particles and impurities.
  • Connect the collection chamber to the filtration chamber using PVC pipes or hoses.
  • Create layers of filtration media inside the chamber. Start with a layer of gravel at the bottom, followed by a layer of sand, and finally, a layer of activated charcoal. The filtration media will trap and remove contaminants from the greywater.

3. Treatment Chamber:

  • The third container functions as the treatment chamber. Its purpose is to further clean and purify the greywater before it can be used for irrigation.
  • Connect the filtration chamber to the treatment chamber using PVC pipes or hoses.
  • Add a layer of fine sand or fabric on the bottom of the treatment chamber to act as a final filter.
  • Optional: You can introduce plants like reeds or water-loving species in the treatment chamber. They will further absorb nutrients and purify the water through natural biological processes.

4. Distribution:

  • Install a hose or tubing to connect the treatment chamber to the irrigation points in your garden.
  • Add valves or taps to control the flow of water from the treatment chamber to the irrigation system. This allows you to adjust the water distribution based on your garden’s needs.

5. Maintenance:

  • Regularly inspect and clean the filters in the collection and filtration chambers to prevent clogging.
  • Monitor the water quality and plant health in your garden to ensure the greywater is suitable for irrigation.

By using a three-chamber system, you can effectively treat and recycle greywater, contributing to water conservation and sustainability on your permaculture homestead. Always use eco-friendly soaps and detergents to minimize the impact of chemicals on the environment and plants.

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