Sep 4, 2010

Greywater Recycling Systems and a Response from a Major Irrigation Manufacuturer

This week we're showcasing our new Greywater Recycling Systems. Below you will find tons of information about the Greywater system, what it does, and how it can help you. If you're serious about water saving, this is the next level product for you.
Flotender Grey Water Systems
Use Grey water from your shower, bathtub and washing machine to irrigate the plants in your landscape.

1. Water is Captured

When you use your washing machine, bathtub, or shower, water flows down the drain, through the pipes, and into the Flotender™.

2. Water is Filtered, Pressurized and Pumped

When the grey water enters the Flotender™, the fine lint and hair is immediately filtered out. The water is then pressurized and pumped into the drip irrigation system.

3. Water is Delivered to Your Plants

The filtered, pressurized water is then delivered evenly to each emitter at the root zone of your plants.

Once the water is pumped out from the Flotender, the system shuts off automatically

Each Flotender System Features:

  • A completely automatic grey water system
  • An included fully automatic drip irrigation system (drip emitters can be installed above or below ground)
  • System includes surge capability to allow for multiple grey water fixtures to be ran simultaneouslywithout system overflow
  • No assembly required, Flotender unit ships pre-assembled
  • System indicators pop up to let you know that the system is running properly
  • A compact design that can fit in tight spaces (G-40 Unit - L: 29" W: 23" H: 24")
  • Simple connection to the home's grey water stub-out
  • A built in overflow system
  • Advanced ultra-fine particle filtration accompanied by an advanced filter spray ring system keeps your system free of debris and clog free
  • An additional secondary filter which acts as a second line of debris defense for the drip irrigation system
  • Built-in pump protection turns your pump off when no grey water is in the system
  • A high pressure pump which allows pumping to high levels throughout the landscape (View Flotender Pump Curve)
  • Simple cleaning can be performed in about 5 minutes
  • Flotender unit comes pre-assembeled
  • UV Resistant housing
  • 1 year warrenty
  • Made in the USA

Use Grey Water for Irrigation and Save

Imagine having the ability to always water your plants, while simultaneously lowering your water consumption and environmental footprint. Rainwater harvesting is popular, but in many dry and drought stricken regions, rain is not available when needed. The Flotender™ Grey Water System provides you with a constant source of water for your plants everyday of the year by using recycled water from your shower, bath, or washing machine for irrigation. This second use of water allows you care for your plants throughout the year, even in seasons of drought and allows you to practice responsible conservation irrigation.

How Much Water Can I Save?

Landscape irrigation makes up anywhere from 32% (national average) to 70% (average in the western United States) of all residential water usage. By recycling the water you are already using with a grey water conservation irrigation system, you could significantly reduce your water usage!

Why Not Use Grey Water For Flushing Toilets?

Although using Grey Water to flush toilets does conserve water, on average much more water is used daily on your outdoor plants than in the toilet. Also, according to EPA guidelines, modern toilets use much less water than toilets of the past (1.6 gallons / flush for modern toilets, between 3.5 - 5.5 gallons/flush for older toilets). Another issue related to using grey water in the toilet is that often times grey water has a grey tint to it and can look unsightly when used in the toilet. At Flotender, we believe in making the largest impact on the road to water conservation as possible per dollar spent and for that reason we have channeled our efforts toward developing a grey water system for irrigation instead of a grey water system for flushing toilets.

How About Using Grey Water for My Lawn?

As we all know, the lawn at your home requires a considerable amount of water to keep it's healthy green look. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with using grey water to irrigate a lawn.
Lawns require a large amount of water - Chances are that all of the grey water fixtures in your home combined would not come close to producing enough water daily for your lawn.
Grey Water cannot be sprayed - Currently the most relaxed grey water laws in the country still do not permit grey water to be sprayed over any distance. Because you can't use spray head sprinklers on a lawn, your only option would be to remove your current lawn, install soaker tubing and reinstall your lawn.
Our recommendation is to either remove your lawn completely and install plantings or install a Flotender System to water your plants while continuing to use city water to water your lawn. Either way you are still making a huge impact and saving thousands of gallons annually.

The Flotender Grey Water Machine

The Flotender Grey Water Machine pressurizes and filters grey water so it can be effectively used to water your plants through drip irrigation.

Precise Grey Water Filtration is Critical

Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to water plants but it requires precise filtration. Without very fine filtration, debris from grey water will clog and ruin the drip system. The Flotender™ Grey Water Recycling System filters all water through a 150-mesh particle filter basket. The intricate design of the grey water filter basket incorporates a unique sealing gasket which allows the filter basket to be easily removed for cleaning without compromising the Flotender Grey Water Drip Irrigation System. A self-regulating spray system offers constant cleaning of the grey water filter basket, which helps maintain an unobstructed flow through the basket, and maximizes time between maintenance.

A Completely Automated System

The Flotender™ Grey Water Recycling System is fully automated. When grey water enters the system it is automatically filtered, pressurized, and pumped out to irrigate your plants. The pressurized water moves to varying levels in the landscape while delivering 15-20 PSI to each emitter. When most of the water has been pumped out, the system automatically turns off. Performance indicators let you know when the Flotender Grey Water Drip Irrigation System is functioning properly.

Drip irrigation Above or Below Ground

Flotender's drip irrigation system utilizes drip emitters with built-in anti-siphon operation. This allows for the drip emitters to be installed below ground without the concern of debris being siphoned up into the emitter. With the flexibility to place the emitters above ground or below, the Flotender Grey Water Irrigation System adheres to all grey water codes.

Easy Out-Of-The-Box Installation

The Flotender™ Grey Water Machine comes fully assembled with all components securely installed and ready for use. Simply connect the Flotender to the grey water source(s), attach the tee filter and performance indicators, connect the grey water drip irrigation system, and plug the cord into a 110v power source.

Re-Plumbing Your Home for Flotender

The Flotender Grey Water System requires that some plumbing alterations be made in your home's existing plumbing. The following are examples of how you can reconfigure your plumbing for use with Flotender.
How to Install a Grey Water System
1-1 Choose a Location
For below ground grey water installations, excavate and place the Flotender on 1 inch of compact sand. Sand will protect the bottom of the tank from sharp objects and help in leveling as you install the grey water system. 1-2 Connect the Expansion Tanks
Note: If your grey water system does not include an expansion tank, skip this step.

Place the Flotender Expansion Tank next to the Flotender 40 as shown in one of the configurations below. For connection details, please refer to the instructions included with the expansion tank connection kit.
1-3 Connect to Grey Water Stub-Out
Connect the Flotender to the building's grey water stub-out using the included pvc pipe and rubber coupling. 2-1 Connect the Overflow
Extend the overflow to drain above or below ground, or reconnect to the existing drain line.2-2 Connect the Spray Ring
Connect the 1/2" purple stripe pipe to the side barb on the tee filter for the self-regulating spray system and then to the spray ring port on the Flotender.
2-3 Secondary Filter and Performance Indicator Connections
Install the secondary tee filter, connect the performance indicators then connect the drip pipe to the barb on the tee filter.
3-1 Install the Drip Irrigation Line
Place the ½" tubing for the grey water drip system through the center of the planting area. Put a tee in if you need to branch off to other areas or use an elbow if you need to make a right turn. You have to work a bit to push the ½" tubing onto the fittings. Twist and turn the fittings into the tubing, being careful to not get any debris inside the pipe.
3-2 Install the Feeder Tubing
Use the coupling insersion Tool to insert the ¼" Self-Piercing Barb Connector into the ½" tubing. Be sure to insert the ¼" Self-Piercing Barb Connector where you want to branch off to a plant with the ¼" tubing.

Push the ¼" tubing onto the barb. Then run the ¼" tubing over to the plant and cut the tubing with a knife or pair of garden shears. Be sure to leave some excess tubing so you have room to adjust the dripper later. You can use the ¼" tees to branch off from the ¼" tubing so you can drip at two locations from one emitter. After you have run all the ¼" tubing, attach a cap adapter to the end of the ½" tubing and remove the cap for flushing.

Note: For recommended drip emitter distribution details see instructions included with the Flotender grey water drip system.
3-3 Flushing the System
Using a garden hose, add water to your Flotender grey water Recycling Kit until the water reaches halfway up on the Filter Basket.
For a grey water drip system with one line of ½" tubing:
Turn the Flotender on and allow the water to flow through your system. Make sure that water is exiting out the ½" tubing. Place a cap on the end of the ½" tubing and make sure water is flowing from all the ¼" tubing.
For a grey water drip system with multiple lines of ½" tubing:
Turn the Flotender on and allow water to flow through your system. Beginning with the ½" tubing at the lowest point in the yard, make sure that water is flowing then place the cap on the end. Move to the next highest end point and repeat until all of the lines of ½" tubing have been flushed. While water is still running, inspect all ¼" tubing to ensure water is flowing from each line.
3-4 Install the Drip Emitters
Insert the drip emitters onto the ends of the ¼" tubing and use the "V" shaped stakes to place the drippers at the roots of the plants. Once all of the drippers are in place, turn the system on and make sure all of the drippers are operating as intended.

Note: Drip emitters can also be placed below ground. Flotender drip emitters include anti-siphon technology which allows for the emitter to be placed below ground without a concern of debris clog.
4-1 Install the Auto-Flush (optional)
Connect the optional auto-flush device to the port labeled "auto-fill". Refer to the instructions included with the device for detailed information.
4-2 Backfill and Final Tasks
Final things to check after you install the grey water system:
  • The lid should be securely fastened before backfilling around the Flotender. Take special care to ensure that dirt doesn't get inside of the unit. Backfill around the drip system.
  • Make sure all stainless steel clamps have been tightened before backfilling.
  • Cushion the pipe with rock free dirt and compact the earth in layers during backfill
  • Make sure that the terrain around the Flotender is graded so surface water does not collect around it.

Is Grey Water Reuse Legal?

Over the last few years more and more states have been introducing legislation allowing the use of grey water. Be sure to check with your local enforcing agency before installing a grey water system as certain restrictions may apply. 

Is Flotender Eligible for Government Rebates?

Yes, depending on the state. Currently Arizona offers rebates for installing a water saving Flotender System.

Is Grey Water Safe?

Yes, for years grey water systems have been installed around the world and is safe for both you and your garden by adhering to these simple rules:
- Don't use on eatable plants
- Don't spray grey water into the air
- Don't store stagnant grey water for more than 24 hours in any type of holding tank. (This isn't an issue with Flotender because the grey water is sent out to your plants immediately upon entering the system)

What is a Grey Water Stub-Out?

A grey water stub out is the end of a pipe that extends out from your home which is connected to your grey water sources. Flotender connects directly to the end of the grey water stub out.

I have a home built on a concrete slab. Can Flotender still be installed?

Flotender can be installed at any home as long as you can install a grey water stub-out. The difficulty of installing a grey water stub out will vary from home to home. Contact a local plumber for more information on retrofitting your home for grey water recycling.

Can I use sub surface drip tube with Flotender?

Yes, however it is not as efficient as individually placed emitters. Soaker tubing often waters areas without plants and when installed below ground does not allow for visual inspection of your drip system.
The drip emitters that come packaged with the Flotender Grey Water System utilize anti-siphon technology which prevents debris from being pulled up into the emitter. This allows for the placement of the emitters below ground without the worry of clogging.

Does Flotender offer a system where both grey water and rainwater are used?

No, Flotender does not offer this type of system.

Can Flotender be used in a commercial setting?

Yes, the Flotender system is fully equipped to be used in a commercial setting with heavy use. The larger systems are better suited for this type of application because of their increased surge capacity.

Can I use a bathroom sink as a source of grey water for the Flotender System?

Yes, sinks can be used as a grey water source, although the amount of water that goes down a sink is insignificant compared to the amount used in a shower, bathtub or washing machine. Our advice is if it's convenient, hook it up. If connecting a sink will require significant additional effort or cost, it's probably not worth the trouble.
Note: Sinks that are attached to a garbage disposal or where any food debris is disposed should not be used with Flotender. For example the kitchen sink.

What type of soaps should be used with Flotender?

While the Flotender Grey Water System will function properly regardless of the soap used in your grey water fixtures, to ensure optimal plant health here are a few guidelines when choosing a soap or detergent:

Avoid soaps, detergents, and shampoo products which contain:

- Any form of paraben (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl)
- Anything listed as a "whitener", "softener", or with "enzymatic components"
- Phosphates
- Chlorine or Bleach
- Boron
- Borax
- Petroleum distillate
- Alkylbenzene
- Sodium Perborate
- Sodium Trypochlorite

It is recommended that you specifically avoid powdered and bar soaps or detergents as they are typically high in sodium.  Sodium is often used as a filler ingredient in powdered soaps, whereas liquid soaps tend to use water as filler.

While some shampoos and soaps are specifically labeled as being "grey water safe", there is still a chance that they are not beneficial for your plants.  We recommend that you check the ingredients for the products that you are purchasing to ensure that they are not only grey water safe, but safe enough to be discharged to your plants.
Suggested Brands of soaps to use with Flotender:
Aubrey Organics
Bio-Pac and Oasis products
Br. Bronners

Can Flotender be used to filter water for flushing toilets?

No, Flotender is intended for use with landscape irrigation. This topic is explained in further detail on the "How much water will I save" page.

Do I need a plumber to install my Flotender System?

It is recommended that you have a licensed plumber make the modifications and install the modifications for the grey water stub-out in your home. Once the grey water stub-out has been installed the Flotender System and drip irrigation can be installed easily by a homeowner or landscape contractor.
Can I use Flotender with my existing drip irrigation system?
Possibly. Flotender has the ability to attach to any type of drip irrigation system, however the results are not guaranteed. The drip irrigation included in our systems has been tested and is guaranteed to work with our system and it is recommended that you use the drip irrigation packaged with the Flotender System.

A larger irrigation manufacturer responded to our blog as follows:

Is this your research? 
Actually your home lawn does not need a considerable amount of water – it need the “right” amount of water that is why we have rain sensors and soil sensors to insure precise use of water.
Water daily for your lawn – your lawn should not be watered daily – it  should be watered only when it needs it – thus the flaw with cities requiring homeowners to water every other day – it may not need it every other day and it could have rained the day before you allocated day but because of the restrictions homeowners feel obligated to water on their assigned day.
Grey water for turf – there is a lot of research taking place now about using grey water for turf.

How About Using Grey Water for My Lawn?

As we all know, the lawn at your home requires a considerable amount of water to keep it's healthy green look. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with using grey water to irrigate a lawn.
Lawns require a large amount of water - Chances are that all of the grey water fixtures in your home combined would not come close to producing enough water daily for your lawn.

1 comment:

  1. This article is very comprehensive, very professional. I got to know the whole phenomenon, all the possibilities to use gray water - I always wondered whether you can make it into something real