It seems the best ideas are often the simplest. Our grey water system first began because flushing the toilet with buckets- rather than traditional toilet-tank flushes- was the only option as the plumbing restoration project was not yet fully complete. It was the simple connection between the water generated from doing dishes and water needed for the buckets to generate the formal system laid out today. For years, the greywater system stood as both a symbol to visitors demonstrating our vision, and an active, functional, and interactive part of our home; something that everyone could get behind.
Next, it was the obvious question of how much water was being saved that propelled the project further. By keeping track of the number of toilet uses without flushing, grey water flushes, traditional flushes, and shower flushes (collecting water from the shower rather than using the toilet’s tank) we could answer this question knowing the volume of our toilet tank and the buckets. Furthermore, by comparing the weekly ratios of greywater to traditional flushes we were able to analyze just how well we the system worked in practice. The average across the weeks that were recorded (the data tracking system was still improving) was about 3. Meaning for every traditional flush there were 3 grey water flushes. For the system we initially had, this was a very good average.
However, this is the now! This week’s ratio is a staggering 48 grey water to only 3 traditional, a ratio of 16. In the past, the collection system consisted of a container inside one sink to collect greywater, that would then be dumped into the buckets. In a fine show of increasing simplicity, coop member Heather Toman (with the support of the rest of the crew) made a direct connection between the sink and the buckets, eliminating the need for a separate container inside of the sink. In this way, we are saving almost all of the water used from the kitchen sink, meaning there is almost always enough grey water on hand for flushes in the bathroom, and hardly any need for traditional flushing!
Contributed by Ivan Swart