CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living
Graywater is used household water that has not come into contact with toilet wastewater. It represents two-thirds of a typical household’s indoor water budget. Reusing graywater to irrigate landscaping keeps it onsite and conserves potable water, easing the burden on both water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, state regulations have made legal use of graywater difficult, if not impossible—although that is changing.
“The regulatory climate has been improving in the last few years,” says Laura Allen, founder of Greywater Action, a California-based non-profit that provides education and other resources for creating water-wise homes. “A lot more states have codes, and California’s updated code is friendlier.”
California used to treat graywater like septic effluent, and the required treatment was prohibitively complicated and expensive. Now, simple systems don’t even require a permit. Arizona and New Mexico boast the most progressive graywater codes, says Allen, with a tiered permitting structure that only requires permits for larger systems. (In Arizona, this means systems that produce more than 400 gallons of graywater per day; in New Mexico, systems that produce over 250 gpd.)