Grey Water Guerrillas


We have written about going off-pipe, about the problems with society's methods of managing waste water. We did not know that there was a movement, and like movements everywhere, a manifesto: Dam Nation — Dispatches from the Water Underground, edited by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Laura Allen and July Oskar Cole. According to the New York Times, they are "a team focused on promoting and installing clandestine plumbing systems that recycle gray water — the effluent of sinks, showers and washing machines — to flush toilets or irrigate gardens." with a mission: "It's about trying to use resources to their full potential and interact with ecosystems in a beneficial way."

This is not just using a hose to spray your garden with shower water, this is a sophisticated recovery system. the picture above shows "A pipe running from the house deposits shower and sink water into an elevated bathtub in the yard that is filled with gravel and reeds, and the roots of plants begin filtering and absorbing contaminants. The water then flows into a second, lower, tub, also containing a reedbed, before flowing into a still-lower tub of floating water hyacinths and small fish."


Building codes are pretty restrictive about plumbing and most of these systems would not pass inspection; Thus the Underground movement. However reading excerpts from the website, one realizes that they are on to something bigger. Their chapter on composting toilets hits some of the notes we have talked about on TreeHugger:

"Reputable research in urban and rural settings worldwide has shown that human excreta can be collected simply and inexpensively, can be processed to remove harmful pathogens, and can then be put to use as nutrient-rich fertilizer. In the process, ecological sanitation can reconnect us to human waste as a valuable resource. Through nutrient cycles, we are intrinsically and symbiotically connected to plants: we eat plant foods, and plants turn the nutrients we
excrete back into food. This is known as a closed loop system. In the industrial world, most such natural cycles have long been broken. Ecological sanitation closes the loop."- we don't need to be connected to a massive sewer system if we know how to deal with it ourselves.

:: DamNation via ::New York Times