Alternatives - Grey-Water Systems

What is a grey-water system? (What about Composting Toilets?)

Grey-water is the portion of domestic wastewater that has lower concentrations of pollutants (BOD, solids, nitrogen, etc.) and typically has no (or very little) fecal matter.   Grey-water may include wastewater from the following sources:

  • washing machines
  • sinks
  • showers
  • bath tubs
  • dishwashers

Grey-water does not include wastewater from the following sources:

  • toilets
  • urinals
  • any drain connected to a garbage disposal

The flow from these fixtures is often  referred to as "blackwater."

Grey-water systems are often accompanied by composting toilets.   ...more

The grey water system is often easily maintained.  However, the labor and costs required to maintain the black-water disposal system can be more than the average property owner wants to take on.  See comments about composting toilets below.  Also read about tight-tanks to understand some of the costs associated with non-compost options for the black-water disposal.

Composting Toilets

Composting toilets use significantly less water than conventional toilets.  Composted human waste can be used as fertilizer around non-edible plants. These systems may provide a reasonable alternative at:

  • remote sites
  • sites with difficult access
  • sites that have limited or seasonal use
  • sites where a standard septic system may not be feasible

Composting toilets are not for everyone.  These require regular maintenance to function properly.  If you are planning a new home and want to install composting toilets, you should try maintaining an existing one at another site first.  You should also provide the option of eliminating the composting toilets at a later date.   This may avoid an expensive septic system upgrade in the event that your family or new property owner does not want to continue using composting toilets.