Constructed Wetland - Zopilote Organic Farm
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Constructed Wetland

The constructed wetland is a process that allows you to clean the gray water (from the shower drain, from the laundry and kitchen) and the black water (from the bathroom) through the plants. Since the first year of Zopilote (2002) we tried to recycle the gray water and fortunately we have compost toilets so we don’t produce blackwater. Initially, the gray water was recycled with a system called BRANCHED DRAINS WITH FREE FLOW OUTLET. This system, from a source of gray water, separates the flow into several tubes, up to 16 even, but in our case from a source we had only one exit. For you to understand, the whole gray water showers and 2 kitchens (3 sources) was channeled by gravity in 3 different depressions covered with mulch with lots of plants gray water resistant near the channel and close the depressions. For resistant plants we mean resistant to gray water ( as you know is full of soap); we used the banana trees, herbs, bamboo, and various local plants that grew alone, while it was impossible to grow tomatoes, herbs and delicate plants . This system allowed the complete recycling of gray water, creating green spaces even in the dry season, but we wanted more. In fact over the years significantly decreased the amount of water available to the community, so the liquid is more precious than before and every year we need watering different plants, not all graywater resistant, and finally we also wanted a place to freshen up a little, a natural pool in short.

After 7 years of observation and after reading the book by Art Ludwig CREATE AN OASIS WITH GRAY WATER, we have started the new adventure of constructed wetlands which is very committed in time and money. The system devised is a series of concrete drains roughly 50 cm high and wide from 20 to 70 cm that from the kitchens and showers bring the water by gravity to 3 pools of ferro-cement placed below. All channels and all the pools except the last are full of stones of various sizes with plant planted on it.

The pool below will be our reserves of clean water now ready to be used to watering plants and make a bath and will be located in a densely planted place to facilitate the manual irrigation of plants. For showers and laundry we haven’t filtered the water while for the kitchens we put 2 filters, which separated the bulk of the remains of food and are cleaned daily. Across the system there are many traps for the fats where water is caught from below and then separated from fats that float because lighter. However, it is in the pools of ferro-cement that is the actual cleaning of the water because they are big enough (6 / 7 thousand liters), with the banks to increase the distance traveled by water and filled with stones of various sizes. In the end it creates a huge filter made from stones and roots that completely cleans the water. The project may be further enlarged though is already working well.