living machines

Brent Ladd forestgarden at
Fri Dec 14 21:20:29 EST 2001


Can you elaborate more on your system and the load it takes?

Here in Indiana a number of constructed wetlands have been approved under
experimental permit, but they have still required the full installation of
septic tank and absorption field in addition to reed beds. This is
prohibitive for most people to afford. I know of no Dept. of Health approved
situation where grey water is separated. One of the people pushing the
envelope on constructed wetlands is JF New corp here in South Bend, Indiana.
Apparently they claim the water coming out the other end is good enough to

This also points to the inherent value of wetlands in any system other than
just cleaning our waste water. What a mistake to drain the wetlands so we
could plant corn. Indiana has only 3% of natural wetlands remaining, but
efforts are underway to restore them.

I am also interested in the living machine system as originated by John
Todd, where at least part of the grey water, after being cleaned, is
recycled back into the house to toilets for flushing. From what I understand
there is a series of gravity fed barrels with various substrates and
organisms/plants in the system that make it work. Does anyone on the list
use a system like this?


----- Original Message -----
From: <permed at>
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at>
Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2001 5:58 PM
Subject: Re: living machines

> > Even here in conservative Midwest US
> >there is increasing interest in these alternative to septic systems. I
> >have received
> >two calls in past two weeks from folks wanting to look into these
> >alternatives. The
> >biggest hurdle is local Health Dept. are very nervous about approving
> >
> >Brent
> What it takes is one successful project to be well monitored and
> regularly tested to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system to Health
> Departments.
> The reedbed/wetland greywater treatment system I installed here at
> Djanbung Gardens 1994 was the first domestic system in NSW. Through the
> local university I found a post-grad student to take it on as a research
> project with regular testing etc The results were passed on to local
> Council and the Health Dept. I received a state Rivercare 2000 Award for
> the system & composting toilet (the excess urine from the compost loo
> goes into the reedbed as well as grey water). In 1997 I installed the
> state's first domestic reedbed treatment system for septic effluent for
> the flush toilet and comercial kitchen in the education centre here.
> In the meantime the health department has become quite supportive of
> constructed wetland treatment systems, especially for wastewater
> containing greywater as it's the only treatment that effectively takes
> care of the salts (sodium) in soaps and detergents which will otherwise
> eventually cause salting problems in the soil through
> evaporation/transpiration beds.
> Robyn Francis
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