In the North East of Brazil, millions of people battle to grow food around their houses due to toxic grey water from washing and sewage that runs outside. But now a newly designed biowater filtering system has the potential to change all of their lives. The dirty water passes through a filtering system. The filtered water is then clean enough to use to irrigate the land. This is the story of Ulisses dos Santos who has tested out the system for one year. Now he is not only eating better, but also making a profit.”
9 thoughts on “1 Million Greywater Systems for Brazil”
What I like about their project is it’s similarity to the experience at Hiware Bazar in India–the so called Miracle Village do to the restoration that came from managing their water better. Another example of a dry heading toward barren place that is turned around with skillful water conservation by a cooperative community. There ARE answers to the “drying problem” much of the earth is experiencing–abundant food production can return!
Thank You for the clarification Ivo. Much appreciated.
I still think it is a good idea for individuals considering these types of systems to educate themselves about Greywater and Blackwater systems. The subject really is not as complicated as it may initially appear.
Brad Lancaster covers Greywater rather well in his books.
Joseph Jenkins covers Blackwater well in his book.
There are plenty of other good sources available too. It is very important to respect the possible germs, disease vectors, and toxicity that can happen with improper handling of waste water, but this topic need not intimidate anyone. Simple natural practices and systems can easily handle typical household waste. If a person is well informed, then uses and maintains one of the many excellent systems, there is nothing to fear. In fact, your waste system can be a real asset to your property. It’s possible to get energy in the form of biogas from a anaerobic digester, and fertility in the form of sanitized high quality compost to use on your plants from your waste. A little bit of knowledge and sound practice goes a long way.
It is only the uninformed or the careless that have or cause problems with this type of waste.
Art Ludwig’s Oasis book series is also recommended.
its just a GREYWATER filter nothing more than that, in brazil they mainly use toxic detergents as the bio-detergents are still very expensive, they use a septic tank for blackwater that its not attached in this water filter! if we translate word by word yes you will get sewage but thats wrong! In this video they only filter, shower, sinks (bathrooms and kitchens – but no food goes throw the sink) and clothes washers waters. Kitchen sinks in brazil filter food leftovers a bit different from the traditional ones in the states
Thank you. Now it makes sense.
WE also have to take into account that these communities in Brazil may not be using the bio-degradable soaps that have been the norm in North America since the late 1970’s. The old soaps were quite toxic and the companies did not change their formulation until there was sufficient public outcry.
There is an error in the video.
Most reading this blog will notice it and be able to figure out what is going on, but I point it out for the benefit of those who are not aware.
This video does not differentiate between greywater and blackwater. Those are two different types of wastewater.
Greywater is the wastewater from showers, bathtubs, bathroom sinks, and clothes washers.
Blackwater is any wastewater that contains the water from toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers. Essentially it is wastewater that contains large amounts of organic matter.
It goes by quickly, but this house mixes its greywater and blackwater. Listen carefully @30 seconds into the video. He included sewage in his wastewater, so in reality what is shown in this video is a BLACKWATER FILTER. They mistakenly call it a greywater filter in the video, but that isn’t accurate. I wonder if the real problem in the video is from a poor translation to English? I don’t speak Portuguese, so I can say for sure.
It is perfectly safe to separate greywater at the source, so that it is NOT contaminated with blackwater, and use that greywater directly on plants in the garden unfiltered, as long as appropriate cautions are taken. Appropriate cautions include using biodegradable soaps and cleaners that will not harm plants, and making sure no toxic chemicals are poured down the drain.
Obviously, blackwater needs to be cleaned up before it can be used. The water that exits a typical septic tank, for example, is blackwater and uses a leach field to spread that water out under the surface of the soil to hopefully allow soil microbes to treat the water before it sinks down to contaminate the water table. (Sadly, not always successfully in every case.)
I hope this comment helps clarify what is happening and avoids some confusion among blog readers.
I encourage those interested in learning more to read about greywater and blackwater systems. This video uses a type of “blackwater biofilter.” There are many different methods of dealing with this waste water.
Perhaps the least expensive system is to not create blackwater in the first place. Use a dry toilet (like a sawdust toilet) and composte the waste to sanitize it. Compost kitchen waste as well. Once correctly composted, that waste becomes a valuable fertilizer. (See Joseph Jenkins Humanure Handbook for details.)
Update: It makes no sense to mix greywater and blackwater, and then use more expensive and complex filtration methods than necessary. Jay’s right on this one. So now I’m wondering why this is being widely replicated in Brazil? I don’t understand.
Note the microbusiness potential. Create jobs so people make a little money installing systems and help spread the ideas from area to area.
Solve problems (opportunities in waiting) sustainably with appropriate technology, natural building and permaculture.
Research basic needs such as clean drinking water, smokeless stoves, greywater filtration, eco toilets, sustainable housing, etc. Save best ideas on your computer. Visit places where these solutions are needed and spread the word.