Dwight wrote to me today and asked me about how I deal with my water – black, grey and potable and I thought this was a fair question so here is my answer.
There are four kinds of water that I deal with at Tiny House Ontario: black, grey, rain and fresh.
Lets deal with the dirty stuff first. Black water. What I did at THO was to use a bucket for waste in the “in-house”. The toilet waste is being put into a four year cycle in a spot I have dedicated to this. In my case all the black water is dry because I use coconut coir to soak up the fluids. I empty this waste or black water into a different space each year and after four years it is safe to use on the garden. Admittedly however, grosses me out so I will use this waste for my flower gardens. “Don’t s*** where you eat” is something I take rather literally.
Grey water at THO consists of my dishwater, shower water housecleaning water and personal washing water. I don’t have a washing machine so my water use is pretty small. Grey water is of course not just water but also the materials I use for cleaning. In my case, I am very cautious about what I use. Vinegar, baking soda mild biodegradable dish soap and bar soap is all that is used here, and this is simply poured out in the areas around my house. i gift this to my flowers and trees and they appreciate this, particularly during the dryer seasons. The soil is thin here and drainage is great. The soil is mixed with limestone rocks and is very shallow – about three or four feet. Then below this for the next 80 feet down there is a limestone escarpment before we hit the water table. I don’t worry at all about grey water drainage nor about polluting the ground water because my topography allows this. If I had different land I would have to use different methods.
Rain water. This I collect to use for washing and watering my garden. What I use is dumped, just as I described above.
Potable water is carried in. This is stored in a non BPA 5 gallon jug. I use this for rinsing the dishes, cooking and drinking. I use about a gallon a day per person. This is stored in my cloth porch in my case. When it is below zero I bring smaller containers of water one gallon each and keep one on my counter an the others under the bed and bring them down as they are needed.
One thing I do have to be very careful about is not to leave any containers of water out. My first year it was a hard lesson because I found a dead salamander floating in my dishwater. Now I am very diligent about dumping everything and also about flipping over any containers to the opposite side, after I am done with them.
Hi Laura. I believe in Ontario water from the kitchen sink is considered “black” I presume that things like salmonella (from washing raw chicken for example) could be a potential hazard. At least that is what I was told years ago when trying to explore the viability of a grey water treatment system for a cottage I owned at the time.