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Gray Water Treatment

Have you seen banana planted near the utensil washing areas in traditional Indian homes?Waste water, urine or excess water is sent via a pipe or drain to the ‘basin’ around which the bananas are planted. Because the hole is lined with banana leaves, the water gathers and is absorbed into the sides of the basin, irrigating plants.

Enormous use of chemical disinfectants, drain pipe decloggers, toilets and floor cleaners soaps , detergents etc definately degrade the quality of graywater to a levels toxic enough to render our fields and soil lifeless anyhow. It is all fine till we are using normally available cleaners in the market for laundry and dishes etc. But overuse of cleaning supplies in the frenzy of cleanliness does nothing more than polluting our ecosystem. Weather reclaimed or not the water we have polluted is anyhow going to meet our water bodies and mostly in the form of sewage. Then how do we treat gray water?
Potentially the most expensive method of gray water reclamation, the treatment method takes the diversion system one step further by routing gray water through a treatment system that cleanses the water enough to be safely stored or used to flush toilets inside the home. Simpler systems employ a physical filtration system, but more advanced systems further remove contaminants through the use of chemical treatment. Chemical treatment basically involves another level of breaking down contaminated water, only on a much smaller scale. More than a dozen different varieties of chemicals are used to treat waste. Some chemicals specialize in killing harmful microorganisms; others break down various unwanted chemicals within the mix. The downside to these systems is that the cost involved can easily place gray water treatment outside the budgets of most households for the foreseeable future.
Although such expensive setups are finding use in green buildings, or in big housing societies but we at Planetous seek solutions from nature and hence favor simple, self running systems that can sustain permanently. One such system is using reed bed. Waste water from from various sources is freshly directed to a a shallow soak pit for mechanical filtration through a layer of sand and gravel topped up with some wood ash. This setup prevents any microbial growth. Further, Planting a bunch of water purifying flora such as Canna Indica or Ginger Lily that supply oxygen at root zone and help in further purification of water. In a better set up, water from kitchen drains(if your are not using chemical based cleaners in the kitchen) can be directed to a banana circle where the bottom of pit is laid with sand and gravel. Similarly water from rest of the sources such as bathrooms, washbasins and washing machines can be passed through the reed bed.
People with no access to ground for construction of reed bed or banana circles have also fabricated innovative setups in their balconies or terrace to filter ground water. Stay tuned with us to read such more stories. For more articles in our water series click on "next article". Share your experiences in the comments below.

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