I TITLE OF THE INVENTION GRAY WATER REUSE APPARATUS AND METHOD BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION This invention relates to a gray water reuse apparatus and method. Reference to any prior art in this specification does not constitute an admission that such prior art forms part of the common general knowledge. it is well recognised that in times of water shortages or simply in the interests of water conservation, gray water can be collected and reused for a variety of uses such as recycling to toilet cisterns or irrigation of lawns, gardens and the like. Gray water collection systems have, therefore, been devised whereby the gray water can be filtered and treated and then stored for reuse, Such systems, however, have generally been complex and, in many cases, are space consuming apparatus, often with a requirement for modification to a building or residence and particularly plumbing thereof. SUMMARY OF THE INENTION An object of the present invention is to overcome or alleviate the aforementioned problems, or to at least provide the public with a useful choice. It is acknowledged that the terms "comprise", "comprises" and "comprising" may, under varying jurisdictions, be attributed with either an exclusive or an inclusive meaning. For the purpose of this specification, and unless otherwise noted, these terms are intended to have an inclusive meaning - i.e. they will be taken to mean an inclusion of not only the listed components which the use directly references, but also to other non-specified components or elements.
2 There is provided a gray water reuse apparatus which can preferably be readily installed with little or no need for modifications to a building, residence or plumbing thereof. There is also provided a method of collecting and reusing gray water from existing plumbing of a building or residence. Broadly according to one aspect of the invention there is provided gray water reuse apparatus including an inlet portion, a waste outlet coupled to the inlet portion, a gray water container coupled to the inlet portion such that gray water entering the inlet portion can flow into and be collected in the gray water container and be recovered for reuse, overflow means for gray water to overflow from the gray water container to the waste outlet, and a filter means provided at or adjacent an entry into the gray water container such that gray water entering the inlet portion passes through the filter means and into the gray water container, the filter means being arranged such that water entering the inlet portion can run off the filter means toward the waste outlet to clean off particulate and/or solid materials collecting on the filter means. In a preferred form of the invention the apparatus includes a valve means which is movable to a first position where gray water is directed to the container and second position where gray water can pass directly to the gully trap. Preferably a filter means is provided at or adjacent the entry into the container. The apparatus preferably further includes pump means for moving gray water from the container. Preferably the apparatus includes a gully trap between the inlet portion and the waste outlet. Preferably the gully trap and container are moulded as one unit from a plastic material.
3 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 5 The invention is further described herein by way of example only with reference to a preferred embodiment and as shown in the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a perspective view of the apparatus, 10 Figure 2 is a cross sectional view of the apparatus, Figure 3 is a front elevation of the apparatus, 15 Figure 4 is a top plan view of the apparatus, Figure 5 is an elevation view of the deflector valve, Figure 6 is an end elevation view of the deflector, 20 Figure 7 is a plan view of the deflector valve, 4 Figure 8 is a section view of a ground pod and associated plumbing for dispensing of gray water collected by the apparatus as shown in Figures 1 4, 5 Figure 9 is a perspective view of the ground pod, and Figure 10 is a cross sectional view of the apparatus of an alternative embodiment. 10 DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION The present invention is based on apparatus which is able to be installed in place of a conventional waste water outlet or gully trap of a building or residence. The apparatus is of a compact and straightforward construction that can be installed with little or no modification to waste water outlets of the building or residence. As shown in the accompanying drawings, and more particularly Figures 1, 2 and 3, the apparatus 10 provides a gully trap 11 and collection tank 12. The gully trap 11 20 and collection tank 12 are formed as an integral unit and can, therefore, be readily manufactured in one piece from a suitable plastics material by say rotational moulding or injection moulding.
5 The apparatus 10 includes an open mouth or inlet portion 13, which communicates both with the gully trap 11 and the open top of tank 12. For strengthening purposes the mouth or inlet portion 13 incorporates one or more peripherally extending ridges 14 and 15. The uppermost ridge 14 can provide a rim about the open end of the 5 mouth/inlet portion 13, while the second ridge 15 is spaced therefrom and locates about both the gully trap 11 and top of the tank 12. The gully trap 11 incorporates an outlet 16 which can fit in a conventional manner with a standard 1 00mm PVC sewer connection. 10 The apparatus 10 further includes a deflector or diverter valve, which is shown in dotted detail in Figures 1, 2, 3. The deflector valve 17 is moveable between one position located over the open top of the gully trap 11 and a second position where it seals closed the collection tank 12. When in the position located over the gully 15 trap 11 incoming gray water, which enters via inlet mouth 13, is deflected into the holding tank 12. A gap 18 is provided between edge of wall 2 and valve plate 19 whereby gray water can overflow into the gully trap 11 when the tank 12 is full. In this regard it should 20 be mentioned that only outlet pipes P from a building or residence that provide flow of gray water, which is suitable for reuse/recycling, opens into mouth portion 13. Any outlet pipe P' which includes gray water not suitable for reuse/recycling (such as 6 from a kitchen sink) is plumbed directly into the gully trap 11 below the part of the gully trap 11 which is closed off by the diverter valve 17. The diverter valve 17 can take different forms as will be appreciated by those skilled 5 in the art. Any diverter valve, which is able to effectively seal closed tank 12 and provide deflection of incoming gray water into tank 12, when the valve is in the "closed" position of the gully trap 11 will be suitable. According to one preferred embodiment of the invention, however, the diverter valve 10 17 essentially consists of a plate 19. Upwardly projecting from opposed each ends of plate 19 is an arm 20. As shown each arm 20 can be substantially triangular in form. At the upper end or apex of the arm 20 is formed or mounted an outwardly projecting spigot 21. The spigots 21 rotatably engage in respective recesses or bearing cavities 22 formed in opposed walls 23 of the mouth portion 13. 15 In the simplest form of the invention, a handle (not shown), can be attached to the diverter valve 17 to facilitate movement of the diverter valve between its respective positions. Detents or other releasable means (not shown) can be provided to engage with the handle to thereby provide for retention of the diverter valve in either of the 20 respective positions. A diverter valve 17 of this type not only provides for closing off of the gully trap 11 and the tank 12 but also enables the movement of the diverter valve to occur 7 beneath the outlets of gray water outlet pipes. In the way diverter valve 17 will not foul with the outlet ends of the gray water outlet pipes P positioned in or over the open mouth portion 13. The diverter valve 17 is thus able to move freely beneath the outlet ends of such gray water outlet pipes P. 5 According to a preferred form of the invention a mesh filter 24 or the like is located in the open top of the tank 12 and, therefore, sits beneath the plate 19 of the diverter valve 17. In the preferred form of the invention the mesh filter 24 is removable so that it can be taken out and cleaned by say the application of 10 pressurised water from a hose. As shown in the drawings the mesh filter 24 is located on an incline toward the overflow edge 25 from tank 12 into trap 11 . Thus there is, to some extent, a self cleaning action as particulate materials collecting on the upper surface of the filter 15 tends to be forced, by run off water, toward the gully trap 11. In a preferred form of the invention, however, the filter 24 can be provided with upwardly protruding elements which tend to form channels across the filter face and into the gully 11 so as to enhance run off of particulates, solids etc. 20 In use therefore the apparatus 10 is installed in place of a traditional gully trap. Outlet pipes P such as from showers, baths and clothes washing equipment can have their outlet ends positioned within or over the open mouth 13. The outlet pipe P' from non-reuseable gray water, such as a kitchen sink, can be plumbed directly into 8 the gully trap 11. Thus when the diverter valve 17 is positioned over the top of the gully trap 11 incoming gray water is diverted into the tank 12. A pump means is provided to transfer gray water from the tank 12 to say a lawn 5 sprinkler, garden irrigation system or possibly a toilet cistern. The pump means is activated upon a predetermined level of water being reached in the tank and then deactivated upon the water falling below that level or a second predetermined level. According to one form of the invention the pump means can be an immersion pump 10 (see Figure 2) which is located in the bottom of the tank 12. A level switch (not shown) is mounted internally within the tank 12 so as to sense the level of water and then actuate and deactivate the pump as required. If the volume of gray water entering the tank 12 is at a rate greater than the pump means can pump water from the tank, and as a result the tank fills up, the overflow simply flows over edge 25 15 into the gully trap 11 and hence into the sewer in the normal manner. The present invention thus provides a straightforward, yet effective, means of collecting reusable gray water and then, as the tank 12 fills, transferring that water to a site of reuse. Because the apparatus may be installed at the location of a traditional gully trap it can be installed with minimal modification to a building or residence and, more particularly, 9 the plumbing of same. The apparatus can either be installed during construction of the building or residence or can be a retrofit. The invention is open to modification as will be appreciated by those skilled in the 5 art. For example, as an alternative to a hand operated diverter valve a more complex arrangement could provide for remote operation of the diverter valve. Thus, a motorised drive can be provided for movement of the diverter valve. The actuation of this motorised drive may be carried out remotely from say within the building or residence. An automatic cut-out means could be provided for sensing that the valve 10 17 has moved to a new position and thereby deactivate the drive mechanism. In another preferred arrangement the diverter valve 17 could be automatically moved by a motorised drive unit from a position over the top of the gully trap 11 to the position closing the tank 12 upon one of a number of situations being sensed by 15 sensor means. For example, a moisture sensor could be used to sense the moisture content of say, soil, thereby determining that supply of gray water from the apparatus 10 to an irrigation system is not required. In another preferred arrangement, the diverter valve may be replaced by a diverting 20 plate. This essentially takes the form of the aforementioned diverter valve, however, this is not movable. A diverter valve 26 may be coupled to the pump outlet, as described in more detail below.
10 In yet another preferred form of the invention as illustrated in Figure 10, the diverter valve/ diverter plate is not included within the apparatus. In order for the recyclable gray water to be collected within the gray water container, the gray water outlet pipe is extended within the apparatus, such that the gray water outlet pipe discharges at a 5 location directly above the opening of the gray water collection container. As described above, non recyclable gray water is directed straight into the sewer in the normal manner. In this form of the invention, a diverter valve 26 is coupled to the pump outlet. The 10 actuation of the diverter valve may be carried out remotely from say, within the building or residence. The diverter valve 26 allows gray water within the gray water container to be directed via connection 36 to either the sewer, or away from the gray water container for reuse. 15 If the volume of gray water entering the tank 12 is at a greater rate than the pump means can pump water from the tank, and as a result the tank fills up, the overflow simply flows over edge 25 into the gully trap 11', and hence into the sewer in the normal manner. 20 Other forms of deflector or diverter valves will be apparent to those skilled in the art. As mentioned above, the apparatus can be used in conjunction with an irrigation system for irrigating a lawn or garden. Accordingly, the outlet pump 35 within or 11 connected to tank 12 can be connected to a supply conduit C which extends to irrigation outlets such as sprinklers, drip-lines, spray-heads and the like. However, because of the nature of gray water, and the possibility of particulate material within the water clogging traditional sprinklers, sprinkler heads etc., the present invention 5 also provides ground pods 30 to which the gray water can be supplied for irrigation purposes. As shown in Figures 10 and 11 of the drawings the pod 30 is essentially an inverted cup shape, which conveniently is manufactured from a suitable plastics material. A 10 reinforcing rim 31 is provided at the base of the inverted cup shape. Extending through a wall of the pod 30 is the end of a riser 32 which, in turn, is connected to a main supply conduit 33. The pod 30 is located in the ground approximately 20cm from the ground surface G. 15 The gray water is thus supplied along the conduit 33 and flows via riser 32 into the pod 30. The gray water issues from the outlet end 34 of the riser 32 to spray onto the inside wall surface of the pod and flow down onto the surface G' to then seep away. If the rate of seepage is less than the rate of inflow of gray water, a volume of gray water V may build up in the pod. Nevertheless, an air gap will always exist 20 between the outlet end 34 of the riser 32 and the water level in the pod 30. In a further arrangement a gauze base (not shown) can be located between the pod 30 and the ground surface G'. This prevents any sinkage of the pod into the soil.
12 According to a preferred arrangement the polyethylene supply conduit 33 will have at its end distant from the pump a tap or valve so that periodic flushing with clean water of the supply conduit 33 can occur. 5 According to a preferred arrangement a series of risers 32 will extend from the supply conduit 33 to a series of pods 30. The pods can be located in an array with each pod spaced from another pod(s) by a distance D of approximately 800 1 000mm. Generally it is found that the wider spacing will be used in heavy soils, 10 while the lesser spacings will be used in soils exhibiting good drainage characteristics. It has been found that a submersible pump is particularly useful in providing the output pump means. A submersible pump can handle gray water and thus no extra 15 filtration is needed in order to ensure that the pump can handle delivery of the gray water from tank 12.