Monterey Greywater

Recomended Types of Greywater Systems


Most systems offered by the greywater industry are small waste treatment plants that live under the house. They have filters, pumps, tanks, valves, and sometimes disinfection and electronic controllers, etc. They cost from $5000 to $30,000 for a single-family residence. Most of these are new and unproven, or abandoned, or fail to meet their original goals. However, these are a very small percentage of the systems in use. 
The vast majority of greywater systems have been working for decades with little or no effort at all. They consist of nothing more than a drainpipe pointing down the nearest hill. This is the classic “drain out back” has some shortcomings, but its durability and spectacular simplicity give one serious pause for thought.
From a holistic, ecological design perspective, a really complicated, expensive system is doomed from the start. At best, all it can hope to do is shift the impact from the waste of water to the waste of resources used to make pumps, valves, tanks, piping and electricity.

“The most complicated thing about a greywater system is keeping it simple”.

The Laundry To Landscape”       Photographic Case Study

is the darling of the greywater revolution. The versatility, simplicity, ease of installation, and low cost of this system, make it first stop in considering greywater for your home. Greywater systems are very site specific. Where your washer is located in the home, and how the greywater needs to be distributed in the yard varies greatly from property, so the cost varies as well. The cost of a typical Laundry to Landscape system in this area should run about $150 for materials and about $450 for labor. This system can be installed without a permit because it doesn’t involve cutting into the plumbing at all. The water comes out of the washer and is diverted toward the landscape by a three way valve. This valve can be easily turned, sending the water back toward the sewer system. This is helpful if you want to wash diapers or a load of bleach or something or if your yard is flooded. Once outside, a carefully designed distribution system dispenses to your landscape. This system can have multiple branches to irrigate different areas, and can even be used to irrigate areas at a slightly higher elevation due to light pumping of the washers pump.

The Branched Drain      Photographic Case Study

is the second system to consider. It collects the water from the bath/shower and vanity before it reaches the toilet. Again a three way valve is used to divert the greywater but its much larger to match the plumbing. This is really a very simple system, which is why the state included it in their list of systems that don’t need a permit. They have since changed their minds because it does involve cutting into the existing plumbing, and should be done by a licensed plumber. A Branched Drain system runs solely on gravity so height on the hose end must be preserved any way possible. An inch drop installing the valve takes 32 feet off the distance you can irrigate. This is why you need a plumber savvy in the ways of greywater. Once out of the house the irrigation piping takes over. This is very simple, but must be done very exactly to insure maintenance free use. The pipes have to be a very specific size. Too big residue sits on the bottom, too small residue causes clogs, just right is self cleaning with very low maintenance. Also special fittings, called double ells are used to split the flow, directing it to different areas to be irrigated. The outlets are then split off and empty into the mulch basin. 
The mulch basin is a very special part of all greywater systems. They catch the surge of water as it arrives and performs the final distribution to the roots of your plants. As it does this the bacteria naturally present in the mulch, breaks down the soaps and products from the bathroom and converts it to plant food and clean water. This is very effective and somewhat magical and as soon as I learn more I’ll be happy to report it here.  People are working very hard to keep the permitting process  reasonable.  Lets hope they're successful,  because an unreasonable permitting process was the problem to begin with.  


Water Assesments

Rainwater Harvesting

Greywater Case Studies

Please feel free to contact us with your comments, or questions, through email or 831 402 8229

Our Wastewater

We have a “use it once and send it away” attitude about our water.

“ We mix all our waste together, then separate it later.”

Like most of our bad habits, this one was born from the days of unlimited resources and a willingness to waste our environment. We take fresh clean potable water. Touch it "once" in our sinks showers, and washers, then mix it with the most awful stuff we can find, bad things like urine, feces, and toxic chemicals. Then we pump this toxic mess all the way over to the sewage treatment plants.

There they treat it with bacteria and chemicals, then pump the liquid parts into the bay. 50% of this water isn't really dirty, and has no business being pumped anywhere, not when our landscapes could use it so well.