Solutions for Self-Reliance

EXTREME Do-it-Yourself Resilience: A Home Scale Waste Water Treatment Plant


Today’s extreme DiY example is a home scale water water processing plant designed and prototyped by Bob Crosby.  Bob is originally from Alaska, but I interacted with him while he was in Costa Rica, working on a resilient community that’s being built there.

Bob has spent a good portion of his life designing and tinkering with systems to turn homes into productive living systems.  Fortunately, he’s both a talented engineer and he’s willing to share the fruits of his efforts with those of us with the foresight to understand their value.

Why would you want to process waste water?  Lots of reasons.

Water is expensive or use is limited (rationed).  You live in a very arid location.  You live off grid.  Your well is going dry.  Your expensive home septic system is broken.

DiY Waste Water Treatment

The solution?  Build your own water processing plant and put it in your basement.

Bob’s waste water treatment prototype can turn about 100 gallons of sludge water every 24 hours into PH neutral, oxygen rich, and oderless water that is ready for irrigation – or – some additional treatment that will make it potable.

Bob’s DiY design requires about $300 for some simple materials and a couple of weekends to build.  This is in contrast to commercial systems that costs tens of thousands to build.  Additionally:

  • It’s modular.  The process is divided into three different modules that make construction, repair and recombination easier.
  • It doesn’t require much to maintain since it doesn’t have any moving parts or corrosive parts that come into contact with waste water.
  • It’s inexpensive to operate.  It uses only 17.5 watts continuously (about ~$0.05 a day).

Here’s what the completed system and some of the steps needed to build it looks like:

The system is divided into three parts:

  1. A surge tank that smooths and slows rapid inflows from the home’s septic system.
  2. A settling tank for letting the sludge sink to the bottom and serve as “sludge blanket” that filters and anaerobically composts incoming, low flow waste water.
  3. A bio-filter to filter and aerobically compost harmful biological contaminates.

Here’s what the schematic looks like and some of the steps in the construction process.



If you want more detail on how to build this system as well as its capabilities, please visit Bob’s site.


Your always excited to see innovative thinking solve everyday problems analyst,




PS:    If you need more help on building waster water systems, Bob’s available for consulting at info@biorealis.

PPS:  For more discussion on productive homes versus the boxes we live in how, read this: is your home a box or a dynamo?.

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