As noted previously, we plan on composting toilets and gray water recycling. Haven has no access to a municipal sewer system, and no septic system. Given that we have more than adequate room for recycling all the gray water we will ever generate (and more) into mulch basins containing fruit trees and shrubs that would benefit from the gray water, we neither need nor want a septic system.
Nonetheless, current statutes and lending practices forced us to get septic site testing done, and also would force us to install such a system, whether we need or want it or not.
However, part of the issue was timing. Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality had been ordered to come up with rules for permitting gray water recycling, reuse, and disposal that would make such use of gray water feasible, financially and otherwise, by private citizens, and an Advisory Committee of various folks -- sanitation people, gray water advocates, etc. -- had been assembled and was in the process of coming up with recommendations for such gray water rules.
I had been given the name of one of the Committee Members, Brenna Bell, to contact with regard to our plans for gray water recycling at Haven, and updates on how easy or hard the process of getting that done in a permitted way would likely be. The problem, of course, is that the final rules would not come into effect until probably late next summer, later than we hoped to be building. Which would leave us under the old system, which would not permit gray water recycling, and force us into installing a septic system despite the fact that we won't have a single flush toilet on the land, and will be using composting toilets. And to add insult to injury, we'd have to pay several thousand dollars and deal with multiple onerous setback issues for the privilege.
That just stuck in my craw, so I decided to see what I could do about it. Here's what I wrote about my efforts, back last August 20th:
In other news, I have finally made contact with Brenna, one of the members of the Oregon DEQ's Gray Water Advisory Committee. We had a good talk, and she may have a lead to a woman working for the State on sustainability who may be able to help us with some of the more frustrating hassles we are having setting up Haven to be environmentally sound and sustainable. She said she would email the contact name to me -- I may need to remind her.
She also asked me to please come and talk at the Gray Water Committee's next meeting in September, about what we want to do at Haven, and the barriers we are running into in doing it under current state rules and practices. We may not be able to get changes in place in time to help us avoid all the hassles facing us regarding gray water management at Haven, but I may well be able to help shape a more positive outcome in the upcoming state-wide rulemaking regarding gray water re-use and recycling.
I will be there, and I will speak. In fact, since I will apparently have more than the five minutes I expected, I will probably make a presentation. I hope it will do good. Brenna seemed to think it would.