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Old 01-22-2012, 09:45 AM   #1
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Greywater: some helpful facts

Hi all- Seems every possible issue is debatable, greywater being no different. I think reliable information is more helpful than endless opinion shouting, and offer this Wikipedia synopsis for those of you trying to decide whether or not the occasional disposal of greywater in the environment surrounding your chosen campsite is beneficial, harmful, or long-term neutral in it's effects. As with everything, it is more nuanced than one might think, and I have elected to not post a link to any sites discussing the environmental impact of sending all greywater through a sewage treatment plant, where it goes after that, etc. There are, of course, many other sources of information but Wikipedia gives a nice overview of the salient pros/cons.
Greywater - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:24 AM   #2
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A number of years ago I posted, on a different forum, that I regularly "dumped" my gray water into the surrounding bushes while camping. I immediately became the target of the sewage police. While I still believe most of what was said was wrong, they did make a few good points.

Gray water is not sewage as the Wiki entry mentions. It is not OK to dump it on the campsite, play areas or places that would not allow it to seep into the ground. It also depends on where you are camping and what rules are in place. Out here in the wild west, it is actually beneficial to the plants and grasses. I don't dump like this when camping at big populated sites with small tightly spaced spots.

I am glad you brought this up and am looking forward to hearing how others deal with this issue.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:27 AM   #3
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Nice read. We use all natural and bio degradable products and have dumped the grey water at times. We wash our dishes with with bio degradable dish soap in tubes and toss it in the grass when we're done and have never be stopped doing it. I feel if you watch what you put in the grey water tank and use bio degradable products it will benefit the weeds/grass instead of dumping it out with the black water. Thanks for the post, I'm going to look up if the is a safe treatment we can put down our grey water tank to make sure it's safer for the plant life.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:31 AM   #4
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I think it's also necessary, once again, to point out that often the environment is used to not having water. Too much water in an area too suddenly can be a problem. We often think we're "helping" when in reality we're just disturbing the balance of the area.

Why did you bother starting new threads? We were arguing just fine on the old one?

P.S. I have absolutely no objection to dumping greywater in an area where it won't cause turbidity in local water tables, nor in areas that man is already completely and continuing to dump all kinds of crap (in some cases, literally) upon.
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by zlee View Post
P.S. I have absolutely no objection to dumping greywater in an area where it won't cause turbidity in local water tables, nor in areas that man is already completely and continuing to dump all kinds of crap (in some cases, literally) upon.
I think it takes real courage to admit to these kinds of experiences- thankyou for sharing this.

Blmitch5 and aftermath: You make good points, appreciate the input on this subject.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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We own some land in the San Juan Islands in Washington state, and dispose of the graywater on the land. This works just fine - we use biodegradable soaps, etc.

Boondocking in desert areas is a different matter, but I have no problem dumping 5 gallons or so in a wash.

We don't do this in campgrounds, of course.

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Old 01-22-2012, 07:19 PM   #7
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I think it boils down to common sense, conditions, experience, etc. I've watered shrubs, grasses, and trees both while camping and here on our property, have yet to see an adverse reaction. I'm sure I'll sin again...
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:34 PM   #8
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I think it boils down to common sense, conditions, experience, etc. I've watered shrubs, grasses, and trees both while camping and here on our property, have yet to see an adverse reaction. I'm sure I'll sin again...
In addition to common sense, better know the law in your jurisdiction and/or not get caught. Big Brother is Watching You.

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Originally Posted by Smokin Camel View Post
One time and caught-----

1. citation ch. nr 113.07 illegal disposal method $803
2. citation ch. nr 113.07 several other potentials--distance to treatment etc plant, non-approved site, and one or two others $803 ea.
3. citation ch. nr 113.04, failure to have vehicle/tank insp. $803
4. citation ch. nr 113.05, failure to have/display license on vehicle $507
5. citation ch. nr 113.06, insp & servicing of vehicle, $507
6. citation ch. nr 113.08 no site evaluation $507
7. citation ch. nr 113.09 violation of application rates $ 803
8. citation ch. nr 113.11 records $803
9. referral to Dept Justice (independent of the long list above), failure to have operators certificate, ch. nr 114, sec 2, enforced ss 281 $5000

Now the interesting part, if I can prove it was intentional (criminal version) that can add considerable. If the hole extends into the upper limits of ground waters....civil version $10,000/day, criminal version $25000 and/or 6 months imprisonment/ day of violation.
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:57 PM   #9
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We are in the process of actually installing a grey water system at our property to be used for watering gardens and such during dry spells.

We had severe drought conditions here a couple of years ago and it was a wake up call. We put in a cistern to capture rainwater with submersible pumps to move the water to the gardens were it was needed. Had a nice fight with the permitting folks over that one. Getting ready to ramp up to fight them over the grey water issue too.

The time is coming, and soon where we better be ready to recycle every drop of water we can.

Aaron
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:18 PM   #10
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Nuvitef- I'm curious to learn more about those citations- were they for greywater disposal on someone's property? or blackwater, or automotive fluids, or what? You raise a very good point- the law, whether being watched or not. So- what is the law regarding greywater dispersal on one's own property? in the woods?
Aaron- best of luck in getting that all set up, makes sense to me.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:40 PM   #11
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Nuvitef- I'm curious to learn more about those citations- were they for greywater disposal on someone's property? or blackwater, or automotive fluids, or what? You raise a very good point- the law, whether being watched or not. So- what is the law regarding greywater dispersal on one's own property? in the woods?
Aaron- best of luck in getting that all set up, makes sense to me.
Click on the link in the quotation (red [>] ) and that will take you to the quoted post and thread and you can go from there. The particular jurisdiction is Wisconsin.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:44 PM   #12
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We dispose of all of our grey and black water on our property. We live on a farm and everything goes into our septic system. When the "honey truck" comes out. About once every ten years to clean the septic tank. They load everything from the septic tank into the truck, then spread it onto the fields. All perfectly legal.
All of the sludge that comes from metropolitan sewer treatment plants is hauled to rural areas and spread on fields where crops are produced.
The liquid from the metro sewage treatment plants goes into the nearest waterway for the next city down stream to use as drinking water once it is processed.
While I don't want to camp where people have been dumping grey or black water on the ground. I feel responsible disposal is the key. I think way too much is being made of this.The idea of using grey water from your home to water the garden has been around for many years without problems. Back in the energy crises of the '70's using the grey water for lawn and gardens was considered good stewardship for the environment and saved energy. My how times have changed. And not always for the better IMHO.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:56 PM   #13
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We dispose of all of our grey and black water on our property. We live on a farm and everything goes into our septic system. When the "honey truck" comes out. About once every ten years to clean the septic tank. They load everything from the septic tank into the truck, then spread it onto the fields. All perfectly legal.
Right. And if you read the list of violations cited in the post that I quoted, you will see that practically all of them have to do with failure to have the legally required licenses and permissions. If Nebraska is like most states, your "honey truck" operator has to have several different licenses, complete with continuing education requirements and application fee$, his truck has to be licensed with more fee$, and the land on which he is ground-applying the sewage has to have been inspected and approved for the purpose for another fee.

So, basically it's OK to dump sewage on the ground, as long as you have made the proper genuflections, and paid the proper fees, to the state.

And yeah, like you said, times have changed, and not always for the better.
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:51 AM   #14
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So, basically it's OK to dump sewage on the ground, as long as you have made the proper genuflections, and paid the proper fees, to the state.
Yup. As with so many things now, the nod-nod wink-wink nature of "doing business" and "obeying the law" makes everything a bit murky, a bit subject to interpretation or, at least, questioning.
Funny story: I once had a '71 VW van, with a "Question Authority" bumper sticker on the back bumper. Long story short, bad idea! I got quite a bit of attention from folks I did NOT want it from... I try to go more under the radar now.
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