Rocky Soil Implications for Greywater System in AZ New Construction

Subject: Greywater for new construction on rocky soil in AZ


> Dear Art,
> My husband and I are trying to put a small home on 5 acres here in
> Arizona.
> We are having problems with getting a septic permit because of rocky
> conditions and are interested in putting in a greywater reclamation system
> and composting toilets. I think it will be cheaper than the up to $25,000
> price we are being quoted for the alternative septic system which also
> uses up a lot of space made unusable for most purposes. The state says
> I can have a composting toilet, no problem. It's the greywater thing
> they are hung up on. We would like to get a quote from you on fees or if
> we fit the profile of one of the projects you listed we would like to
> know more. Thank you.
> LJ


[SEE UPDATED INFO ON AZ LAW: Greywater policy center]


Dear LJ, I don't know much about greywater legality in AZ. The technical difficulty depends mostly on the legal difficulty. If you have irrigable area downhill from the greywater sources, not too hard of frost and the perk is not too low, I could design you a system similar to one permitted by the city of Santa Barbara and part of a recent State of California greywater test; I could talk this one up pretty good with your authorities. The uniform plumbing code has a greywater appendix which AZ probably has adopted, which is similar to Californias'. Much has to do with your relationship with your local administrative authority; the law grants them nearly complete discretion, and if they aren't reasonable there is no way to build anything which makes sense. Quote-Virtually all my work is time and materials. Rates and terms are veiwable on our web site (URL below). The way I work with most clients is that we simply start out, and I keep them frequently updated on costs (every $100, $500 or whatever we agree on; usually more frequently in the beginning when we are getting to know each other's work style). If they don't feel good about the value they are receiving we can stop before much money has been exchanged and no hard feelings. This actually hasn't happened; about half the jobs we see through within their original scope, and the other half I am asked to greatly expand the scope of the work to include freshwater systems, edible landscaping, energy systems, what have you. This is one of the reasons I don't do things by bid. It is possible your project might involve one of my pet designs and a discount, but doubtful as I am mainly looking for someone with a really cold site not too far from me; probably high altitude in the sierra or Rockies. Another issue is that my consulting schedule is fairly tight for the next year, especially if your project requires me to supervise construction on site. The composting toilet shouldn't cost so much; a few thousand, and the gw systems I design are generally very economical of materials; a thousand or two at most, possibly as little as $500. If I was able to design the system I mentioned off site and one of you is a plumber, my labor could come to a few thousand dollars or less. If I had to fly out there and spend ten days working on it with a locally hired plumber, it could come to $12,000 in unless we had extraordinarily bad luck (e.g., we can't finish in one session and I have to come out twice) you should be able to go this route for $18,000 or less total, and if you were very lucky maybe it could be as low as $5000. Check the web site below and let me know your thoughts and time frame.


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