Buying a Home with an Existing Greywater System (and Failing Septic?)

[John writes from Iowa who is looking to purchase a home outfitted with a
greywater system. The location is hilly, rainfall is plentiful, elevation
1000 ft, soil perk rate probably high. They are interested in greywater
treatment and reuse, and edible landscaping.]

> Background: Outside city limits on small acreage; well is water source & is
> located uphill.
> Question(s): Looking at purchasing a small house in the country with a septic
> system. Current owners have greywater from bathroom sink & shower piped
> at a gentle grade down to a rock garden, where it runs across/through large
> pebbles onto a flower garden below.
> Does this sound like an ecologically acceptable system?

It is pretty hard to harm the ecology with a greywater system short of dumping
the raw greywater straight into a creek. If the system is aesthetically and
horticulturally acceptable to you, and does not pose an obvious health threat
then I'd say it's harmless.
As people often divert their greywater when their septic leachfield starts
to fail, I would investigate that possibility. If they start to get restless when
you ask about the septic system it doesn't mean don't buy the place, or that you'll
need a new system.
You can ask them to lower the cost several thousand dollars to offset the
potential cost of a new leachfield.
Also, you did not mention laundry and bathroom sink water being diverted.
Laundry water is the most important to divert from a septic system as lint is
the # 1 clogger of leachfields. Kitchen sink water can be diverted in a sanitary
way through a branched drain to mulch basins, bog, or infiltration chambers system.
Good luck!


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