Greywater, or reusing water from inside the home as irrigation in the yard, is a way to reduce water use during the drought and beyond. We like these systems because of their simplicity and cost-effectiveness, and they don’t rely on rainfall to maintain a beneficial landscape that can include fruit trees, pollinator plants, and more. They encourage the use of non-toxic laundry detergents, recharge the groundwater, and help a household live closer to the land. Greywater systems are legal in California, and we’re fielding many inquiries from residents interested in installing their own system as a drought strategy. Some cities have created incentives and policies to encourage their use, like San Francisco, which recently passed an ordinance to require new developments to use onsite water reuse systems – like greywater and blackwater systems – for non-potable uses like toilet flushing and irrigation. Other cities have been more lukewarm, including Los Angeles. Catch greywater expert Laura Allen on AirTalk, a public radio program in Los Angeles, discussing the ins and outs of greywater, followed by a LADWP representative explaining their position. We think greywater is great – but we need to convince government agencies and other policy makers to get behind it, too, in order to see this strategy scale up.
Greywater is smart drought-strategy – but not all California cities are on board
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Many cities do not understand that the state has established requirements.
It’s like Berkeley in 2002: Everyone said “graywater systems are illegal,” yet when Babak of EcoHouse and I went to city hall to pull a permit, they all gathered around the counter fascinated and were supported. They said no one had ever asked for a permit.