most places it makes perfect sense to be as efficient with water
as possible, but in the desert it is especially true or so it
would seem. A group of citizens in Phoenix thought so to. With
an average annual rainfall of only 7.6 inches, water conservation
is just common sense. Consequently, they wanted to create a
standard for greywater reuse in new homes in northeast Phoenix.
But the city thought otherwise.
citizens led by Mick Dalrymple, a spokesman for the U.S. Green
Building Council in Arizona, proposed installing two sets of
pipes in new homes in northeast Phoenix so residents could reuse
some of their wastewater as greywater; immediately saving water
and over time money.
However, the city needs the wastewater from the homes in the
northeast part of the city to feed its Cave Creek reclamation
plant, said Ray Quay, assistant director of the city's Water
has a master plan for its wastewater, reusing about 95 percent
of it, whether for irrigating big green spaces, such as golf
courses, or supplying water for the cooling towers at Palo Verde
Nuclear Generating Station.
Quay does acknowledge that there are places other than northeast
Phoenix where greywater use makes more sense. Those include
pockets of town that are still served by septic tanks and, especially,
rural Arizona. Phoenix won't block homebuilders from offering
greywater as an option, Quay said, but it would rather manage
the water itself.
Greywater, a relatively unknown but age-old method of reusing
water, has gained new supporters as Arizona has struggled with
drought. Scottsdale's green-building program encourages greywater
systems. The state Department of Environmental Quality eased
the regulations on greywater use four years ago, making it easier
to reuse household water. And a bill just signed into law will
provide $200 tax credits to homebuilders who add the piping
for greywater use.
Additionally, there are fewer restrictions on greywater use
since the state Department of Environmental Quality loosened
its rules in 2001. Residents must simply follow 13 guidelines
issued by the agency. No special permit is required.
Greywater proponents say the idea of reusing household wastewater
is a fairly simple concept that critics are making too complex.
They point to the bigger picture - greywater cuts down on the
infrastructure needed for water systems. The less water people
send down the sewer, the broader the area a treatment plant
can serve, Dalrymple said. This would reduce the need to build
more costly plants.
- General overview of the area including weather, population
and other statistics
Issues by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
- Guidelines published by the State of Arizona on greywater
Central by Oasis Design - Good overview of greywater systems
with links to several other related sites.