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We live off grid and are looking for answers for power and grey water system. Can anyone help? ? Answered

We currently have a gasoline generator and this provides all the electricity but would like to use renewable resources. We have built an elevated water tank and use gravity but this is only accessible during the summers, we live in Iowa. We haul the water in and bring drinking water we bring (only there on weekends currently). In our county they said we need to have a septic tank. We have an outhouse but no grey water disposal. In our county we cannot allow anything which touches the body to touch the ground so throwing it out on the ground isn't a long term option. Any options we are aware of are OK with the county but we would still have to run it through a septic tank first. This defeats our low budget project. We want to live simply and I have a hard time understanding why it is OK for the cattle lot just up the creek from us to run off from the lot into the creek but our bodies would contaminate our land. (I think the cattle lot already does this as it is sewage washed down to us) We do not currently use any of this creek water. Our cabin is about 1/4 mile away from the creek. Any new ideas?




8 years ago

Im not sure if your still looking into this as the post is from 2009 however If you are you might take a look at some permaculture techniques such as a reed filter.

It creates a natural filtration system and allows even bacteria ridden water to be filtered through a mini reed bed providing fresh water for the property and even water table.

This is a thread from our Permaculture Forum here in Australia however the techniques and system implementations would be nearly identical for most areas.


Now since your county has a if it touches humans it cant touch the ground policy then you could look into humanure options for the human waste and bucket indoor worm farms for some of the food scraps and maybe check out bokashi buckets.

A rainwater/ greywater tank could be used the same way for kitchen and other sinks to minimize the need for toilet connections.

Permaculture is a great way to be self sufficient and eco friendly so check out some of the information. Also a great book I found was "The self sufficientish bible" , "The earth users guide to permaculture" by Rosemary Morrow, and "The urban homestead". all of these have varying ideas on waste management from suburban to "outback".

Also check out - www.fuellesspower.com
for ideas on power without using fossil fuels.

I hope this helps a little or at least something you may not have seen yet if not I apologise for redundancies : )

From someone who is dying to get off the grid I must say am happy to see someone else already there and wish you both the best of luck with it all.



10 years ago

As for power, if you have a creek running nearby, what about a water wheel?


10 years ago

You are going to have a tough time getting around the the requirement for a sceptic tank, no matter how hypocritical the feedlot up the way seems to be doing. The only way to really avoid that expense is to either attempt to get the county building code changed, which is a likely a major undertaking in its own right; or to get an exception granted to your particular lot. These exceptions are hugely varied in how they get granted from place to place so I wouldn't know how you would get one for your area. Though one possible way to get an exception would be to find some plans for some 'alternative' waste disposal system and have an engineer and ecologist sign off on them. This might -help- you get an exception for your lot so you don't have to use a septic tank, but it would require some sort of alternate primary waste treatment system. The last, non-recommended option, I can think of is to just lie and compost your own waste. It would have to actually be a compost pile instead of a latrine, and I've heard it works very well. The guy who wrote the humanure handbook suggested that he did his waste disposal that way for a number of years. Though if you do get caught, likely they will throw some huge fines at you and like make you treat the compost as toxic waste (which is certainly ironic).