Friday, August 4, 2017

Waste Water Chores: The Underbelly of My Tiny

In designing the utilities of my tiny it was my intention to approach tiny house living in the simplest possible way even if it was primitive. If it didn't work out I could always upgrade. That I was actually able to buy a waste water tank on wheels was already a significant advance above anything I could improvise. These tanks were available from RV supply stores in several sizes. I chose the smallest 11 gallon tank which was already so heavy when full I could barely muscle it around.

So in the winter months I dragged the tank around the garden and emptied it at the base of trees. Little blankets of floating fat poured out too so when the rainy season was over I decided to filter the water before I poured it on plants. For this I made a bio filter from straw which I stuffed into a funnel that I place in the mouth of a five gallon water container. Then I made a ramp from a piece of plywood so I could get the tank up onto a pair of milk crates and let the water out while attempting to aim the stream into the filter. This actually worked to filter the solids out. But it took a while for the water to pass through the filter and I got tired of standing there so I thought I would try a filter inside.

After some thought about what kind of container I might use I retrieved an old collapsible water container from my camping gear and cut the bottom out on three sides. Then filled it with straw. The spigot I aimed down the drain. The plastic tube you see drains direct from the sink. This set-up did indeed filter out the solids and was big enough to easily empty my dishpan of dirty water directly into it. After a week it began to smell so I replaced the straw with fresh straw. It is definitely primitive to say the least, but it is biodegradable so I don't mind. Later I may try something more sophisticated or more solid like sand and gravel.

Now it does not take very long at all to drain the tank into a five gallon bucket twice. It is also a bit easier to carry buckets into the garden than to drag the tank over the mounds of grass. This chore is required about once a week. Once I forgot to check it and it overflowed which meant water on the cement slab flowing out to the road, but I am usually pretty good at checking how full it is. I can also pour the urine collection tank from my toilet into the waste water for appropriate dilution to give to plants.

All this might seem a bit much to do in day to day living, but when a friend told me how she spent all day getting a plumber in to clear a drain one Thanksgiving because she had put something she shouldn't have down the garbage disposal I felt fortunate I would never face such a job. I also will never have to have half the yard dug up to replace broken drain pipe at great expense. These are the worries that plague homeowners that are not even on my list of worries.

And best of all I get to re-use all my waste water on plants.

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