Water recycling: How to recycle blackwater
It sounds nasty and it sounds out of the question, but it’s not. There are systems out there that make it possible to clean and re-use the sewage generated from your home.
Following on from last week’s instalment about greywater recycling, this week we’re taking it one step further and investigating the possibilities for blackwater, AKA sewage.
It depends on where you live, and it can be tough to get clearance from your council to be allowed to install a blackwater recycling system at home. Tough, but not impossible.
We spoke to Peter Spinks, general manager of Garden Master in Rutherford, NSW, who has been in the water recycling business for 29 years.
Blackwater recycling: the basicsWhilst greywater covers most of the waste water from our homes (water from sinks, washing machines, showers, dishwashers and baths), blackwater is the nasty stuff – the toilet waste.
A blackwater recycling system will collect all the dirty water from your home, filter it, treat it, and re-use it in the garden for irrigation.
The water cleaning process
The Garden Master Elite is a home sewerage treatment tank that is installed underground in the garden.
“The system relies on anaerobic bacteria, which is produced by your solids,” explained Peter. When waste water enters the system it goes through five stages:
The irrigation is then either above ground or underground, to a specific area in the garden dedicated to receiving the irrigated water. Shrubs and trees will extract the remaining nutrients from the water.
“There is no smell at all,” said Peter. “The only way it will smell is if the customer puts bacteria killers like Napisan, hospital cleaner or hair dye into it. As long as they don’t do this, the system will be crystal clear with no problems or smells.”
Restrictions of blackwater recycling
Unfortunately, it’s not simply a case of deciding you want to be super self-sufficient and start treating your sewage at home.
It all depends on where you live. Basically, metropolitan areas are out, rural areas are in.
“If you live in a metropolitan area, you have to hook up to the sewerage system – that’s a mandatory requirement,” explained Peter. “But in Australia there are so many areas that are rural and not connected to metropolitan sewage systems, you only have to get a few kilometres out of the cities – there are already 2-300,000 black water recycling systems out there.”
There are also requirements that need to be met – set by the local council – to ensure systems are safe.
“We visit the customer and look at the house plans or site plan, then draw everything up for the council, making sure all the health requirements and planning requirements are met,” added Peter.
The cost of blackwater recycling
A fully installed Garden Master Elite will costs in the region of $11,000.
Garden Master also supplies a greywater recycling system – the ultraGTS.
“The hardest thing with greywater recycling is getting rid of lint, but our system uses a membrane to filter it out,” said Peter.
The ultraGTS, which comes with water tanks, the filtration unit itself and pressure pumps, costs about $15,000.