Gray Water Reuse System, Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, May – August 2015

The farm had a pre-implemented project to recycle the mildly used water exiting the hotel kitchen, laundry room, and family room showers. The Lodge utilizes an Oasis branched system design in which this water is easily reused. The system works within the environment to make this water available for use by the soil and plants, which naturally filter the water. The system can be described in the brief narrative below (written to advertise the system to guests):

“The process begins in the kitchen. When dishes are collected from guests, the food is scraped into a bucket to be feasted upon by the Finca Luna Nueva pigs.
Then, as the plates are washed, the used rinse water flushes down through the bowels of the kitchen sink, out through a plastic tube, and into a system of filters about ten meters away. The filter system is composed of three filters in series, each consisting of an inner and outer 10-gallon bucket. The food waste remains behind in the buckets, which are drilled with tiny holes, like a colander. The remaining water continues flowing downward, gravity acting as its fuel.
The water leaves the final bucket filter and enters another system of plastic pipes, flowing steadily through a series of branches in the piping until finally arriving at the end of the pipe and falling into a rectangular concrete lined chamber in the ground. This concrete lined chamber acts as a collecting and holding basin for this water. Each chamber is about one meter long and one-third that distance wide, contains small holes in the sides and an open bottom to encourage water flow, and holds old coconut husks. These coconut husks absorb the water and filter it through their fibers.
Upon leaving the coconuts, the water soaks into the ground where it is taken up by the microorganisms and banana tree roots that reside nearby. The bananas, which are of a lesser sweet variety, are then used as a delicious food source for the pigs!”

The project was already in place but required design adjustments and maintenance plans. The first problem was that the filter was clogging regularly and beginning to attract vectors. The second problem was in the construction of the holes into which the gray water would be deposited. The final destination for the gray water was several dug out, open rectangular holes about 0.5 meters deep into the soil. The walls of the holes were the soil itself and therefore had no support. Because of this, the holes were beginning to lose their structural integrity. The objective of the project was to come up with a solution to both of these problems – to improve the filter and to find a way to stabilize the holes.

The original filter design only consisted of one two-bucket system. The holes in the bucket were easily clogged with bits of food from the kitchen and preventing the water from reaching its final destination. Through collaboration with employees of the farm, a new design was established that would contain three 2-bucket systems in series, connected by PVC pipes. The buckets were designed so that instead of exiting the bottom of the outer bucket, the water would rise to the top of the bucket and exit through a PVC pipe and flow into the next filter system. This way the difference in densities of the food and the water would allow the food to remain at the bottom of the inner bucket and the water to rise to the top and exit the filter to move forward. Additionally, an exit PVC pipe was installed at the bottom of each bucket to allow for quick cleaning of food waste debris.

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