The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Greywater wetland in winter

Greywater wetland in winter

One of our readers asked for an update on our greywater wetland and I'm glad she did. There are two kinds of projects that I seldom post followups about here on the blog --- ones that fail unspectacularly and ones that work so well I never have to think about them again. Our greywater wetland falls into the latter category.

Specifically, Kathleen asked:

"I wonder, do you ever get a foul smell from stagnant water? Do you send big chunks down the "drain" and do you do anything to winterize your system?"

We did have a short period the first summer when we smelled a bit of stagnant water wafting back up the pipes...but before we got around to fixing the problem, nature took over. I assume the right bacteria colonized the wetland and broke down the odor-causing problem, because we didn't notice a troubling smell again.

In terms of sending big chunks down the drain, we don't do so on purpose (like you might with a garbage disposal unit in a modern sink), but we also aren't careful when letting Looking down into the greywater wetlanddishwater drain out, so some pretty big chunks do get through. Due to our big pipes, and perhaps to the roof water I channeled in to flush out those pipes every time it rains, we haven't had any problems resulting from food chunks causing blockages.

Finally, no, we don't winterize our system in any way. Water is more likely to stand in the wetland over the winter, but it still sinks in pretty quickly, and we haven't noticed any problems. Overall, I'd say this is a system that you should feel free to replicate exactly as we built it --- it's an awesome addition to our farm, and the cattails are both pretty and (as we learned this fall) can be fed to goats when fresh and green. What's not to love?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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So interesting. Thanks for the follow-up! Do you have problems with mosquitoes breeding in the wetland? And does it get cold enough where you are that the wetland freezes over?
Comment by Cordy Fri Dec 19 14:30:43 2014
Cordy --- No mosquito problems to speak of. Of course, we do have low to moderate mosquito levels already because we live beside a swamp.... But I don't think the wetland bred any because water soaks in pretty quickly over the summer due to the cattails. There's seldom enough standing water even in the winter for ice to form, although our ground does freeze sometimes.
Comment by anna Fri Dec 19 18:45:46 2014

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