When it rains here, it does it in tonnes. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the wettest place in Europe, Crkvice, is up in the hills behind Risan, about 10km away, but over 900m above sea level. The result of this rain can be seen in the amazing underwater rivers, which literally erupt into the Bay a day or two after serious rain in the hills. See the description in the section on Risan.
Despite these torrential downpours, I feel that water will be increasingly scarce. This year has been especially dry, and I feel that we must plan for greater use of whatever rain does fall and for recycling of the water we do use. This means storage tanks and filters, pumps, and potentially sterilisation if the water has to be used as drinking water, not just ‘technical’ water. We have failure of the main water supply at times, especially in summer. This has got better since the connection to the Skadar Lake pipeline, but I do not see that this will really mean no water shortages in future years. Therefore we need also to plan to be able to switch to the tank supply at very short notice, and as easily as possible.
Rain Water Harvesting
Apart from gathering rain from the roof, it would be nice to allow for rain collection from the terrace and other paved areas around the house. There is of course a problem with all the stuff which gathers on such hard-standings. But then that is also needed for the rain from the roof. Having two separate systems (one for rain from the roof and another for that from the hard-standings) would be too expensive.
Filtration and storage will need to be carefully designed, as all sorts of rubbish will be washed into the system in the downpour. Research indicates we need a debris strainer to take out the coarse matter; then a ‘first-flush’ diverter to isolate the first few minutes of flow which contains stuff from the surface of the roof. After that the water flows into the collection tanks. There is a brilliant website http://rainharvesting.com.au with all the information one needs to install a complete system.
An enterprising couple have built into their lake-side house on Lake Skadar a complete recycling system, taking water from and returning almost pure water to the lake. They use composting loos, and have an abundant garden as a result. We won’t go that far, but we want to build in re-use of grey water. The bulk of grey water would come from the clothes washing machine and from dishwashing, both with quite a lot of detergent, and (dishwashing) grease. The literature tells me that we need therefore anaerobic to aerobic treatment, ie ideally a 3-chamber septic tank system feeding a sand filter bed:
“If any significant quantity of food waste enters the system from dishwashers and kitchen sinks receiving cooking grease and a fair amount of food residue, this option is recommended. A typical installation is not very different from a traditional system; but the treated effluent is of much better quality and does not pollute nearly as much. Ideally, it should consist of a three-stage septic tank for sludge and grease separation. The separated sludge can thus be removed less frequently [every fourth year instead of bi-yearly as is standard practice with many conventional systems]. The outgoing effluent in the septic system is anaerobic. Following the septic tank is a sand filter designed for restoration of aerobic conditions. The final treatment stage leading to purified water of near potable-quality is treatment in a planter bed. This is not the most inexpensive solution. It is, however, one of the most effective, simple-to-maintain on-site treatment techniques available today.
Grease-trap/ septic tank + sand filter + sample/ pump pit”
Source: http://www.greywater.com Gray water recycling treatment technologies
© all text and photographs, except where individually credited to other sources: James Collins