HarvestH2o Online Community

SECTIONS -|- ABOUT US -|- FAQS -|- ARTICLES-|- RESOURCES -|- VENDORS -|- NEWS -|- NEW PRODUCTS -|- SERVICES

NEWSLETTER

PRIVACY: We will not sell, rent or share your name with anyone. see policy

MOST POPULAR

Next Generation Water Summit

Filtration and Purification

Storage Options

RECENT COMMENTS

SERVICES

SITE CONTENT

Article Archives
Books
Company Info
Consulting
Conveyance Systems
Floating Extractors
Gutters
How To Guides
New Products
Non-Water Resources
Pumps
Rainbarrels
RWH Active Catchment
RWH Advanced Info
RWH Basic Info
RWH Calculators
RWH FAQs
RWH Healthcheck
RWH Incentives
RWH New Products
RWH Nonprofits
RWH Passive Catchment
RWH Plumbing Code
RWH Regulations
RWH Research
RWH Resources
RWH Testimonials
RWH Vendors
System Design Services
Tank Calculations
Tank Sizing
Water Audits - Indoor
Water Audits - Outdoor
US Water Standards
Water Books
Water Conservation
Water Films
Water Quality
Water Related News

Article Listing

Is Rainwater Harvesting a Good Investment
Drip Irrigation Basics
Florida Environmental House
Swales and Berms
Use It Twice - Greywater

Rainwater System Component Articles

Gutters
Pumps
Pumps or Pressure Tanks

Pump Sizing

Storage Options

Sample Systems

Free Pumping
Off the Grid

Water Conservation Articles

Tale of Two Cities Rainwater Harvesting in Taos
Water - Why Care
Save Energy, Save Water

Water Quality Articles

Chlorination, Part I
Chlorination, Part II
Importance of pH
Is Rainwater Safe
Potable Rainwater: Filtration and Purification
UV Purification
UV and Carbon Filtration

Water Op Eds:

Climate Change Greenest Roof
Water - Why Care

Gray Water: The New Green

by Doug Pushard

Gray water has been around for decades. It is the recycling and reuse of waste-water from the shower, tub, clothes washer, bathroom sinks, floor drains for onsite use. This volume of water can sometimes be up to 50 percent of the water consumed inside a typical house. Gray water can easily amount to over 20,000 gallons a month!

Gray water or greywater or grey water are all the same; although, we can’t agree on what we call it, both the plumbing code organizations - the International Plumbing Code (IPC) and the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) now have code sections dedicated to detailing how these systems should be implemented.

These new codes have enabled states and local juisdictions to adopt regulations allowing gray water systems to be built. Prior to these codes some states lead (i.e. Arizona and New Mexico) in this area by adopting state-wide codes to allow these systems at a residential level (i.e. the discharge of less than 250 gallons per day). Some states struggled with the concept of allowing gray water systems (e.g. Texas and Colorado), permitting it in some jurisdictions and not others or allowing it but making it very difficult to get a permit (e.g. California); while others still lag in this area altogether (e.g. Utah).

While city water is a great source fo drinking water, it should be secondary when it comes to landscape water use. Below is a summary of the characteristics of each, comparing city drinking water with gray water.

 
  City Water Gray Water
Drinking Water Quality
Yes
No
Nutrient Rich Low
High
Bacteria
No
Yes
Chlorine Yes
Very, very low
Minerals/Salts
Maybe
Yes
pH 6.5-8.5 5.0-10.5

Gray water is a great source of irrigation water, which in many locations in the Southwest is 40-50 percent of the overall water use in a home. Gray water usually contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, potassium and other salt compounds. It will also have varying amounts of household chemicals, oils, makeup greases, nutrients and chemicals that can largely be managed by the types of products used wihtin a household.

Chlorine keeps the bacteria in check to ensure the water is drinking water quality. Without the chlorine bacteria will begin to thrive. Bacteria although harmful to humans is helpful for plants. It is the reason untreated gray water systems should be distributed to plants sub-surface.

Many of the nutrients in gray water are exactly the same as the fertilizers we buy at a local landscape store to fertilizer our landscapes. By recycling gray water, you can reduce or eliminate the need to buy expensive plant fertilizers.

The use of the gray water can immediately reduce onsite potable water use during the irrigation season. This saves the household money on its water bill, reduces the energy required to produce the potable water that would have been used on the landscape, and saves energy required at the treatment plant to process this water to teritiary water standards for downstream use.

In New Mexico and Arizona, installing a greywater system does not require a permit for private residential greywater systems that discharge less than 250 gallons per day for use onsite for gardening, composting or landscaping irrigation. There are a few restrictions with the really key ones being: gray water can not be stored for more than 24 hours prior to use; it can not be used in above ground spray irrigation systems; and the water should not contain hazardous chemicals derived from activities such as cleaning car parts, washing greasy or oily rags or disposing of waste solutions from home photo labs or other home occupational activities.

In New Mexico, the development of CloudCroft requires the installation of greywater systems in any new home. In Tuscon, Arizona the City requires the installation of the required indoor plumbing for a gray water system to be installed at the time of construction.

The City of Santa Fe, will soon begin offering rebates for the installation of Laundry to Landscape gray water systems.

Additionally, some of the leaders of gray water resuse are publishing great reference guides:

Now there is even a model ordinance document for jurisdictions to use. This document was written by The Decentralized Water Policy Council and is modeled after the leaders: Arizona and New Mexico regulations.

Gray Water Model Ordinance (pdf)

The QWEL organization out of Santa Monica, CA is providing training materials for local jurisdictions to use. These materials must be modified for local codes but are a good way for water agencies to start the local learning process.

The above guides, model ordinance, and teaching materials will hopefully help others follow.

Living within our water budget is key to a sustainable water long-term future in the southwest. We all depend upon the same primary water sources: Rio Grande and the Colorado Rivers. Reusing our water onsite is not only just makes sense, it helps us stay within our budget. Water reuse is not just for water utilities it is a solution for us all!

Links:

TOP

HOME


LATEST ARTICLES

FAQS

How do you harvest rainwater?

Where do you get the water?

What is the best way of harvesting rain?

Why should I harvest rainwater?

Do I need pumps to harvest rainwater?

Can I use drip irrigation or soaker hoses with a rainwater?

How big a yard can I water?

How big are rain barrels?

I want more pressure, how should I raise it?

Can I water my grass with rainwater?

and many more>>

SITE SPONSORS

Xerxes Tanks

Maelstrom rainwater filter

 

Fun Facts

Favorite Water Books

Taking on Water

A Great Aridness

Drinking Water

Tapped Out


 

ABOUT US -|--FAQS -| -ARTICLES -| -RESOURCES -| - VENDORS |- NEWS-|- NEW PRODUCTS -| SERVICES

Copyright © 1990-2018 HarvestH2o, All Rights Reserved 505-603-5498