Home Improvement Solutions
Use Gray Water for California Drought Relief
California regulators have approved using residential "gray water" by issuing an emergency decision that allows residents to create simple water-reuse systems without a construction permit.
Gray water includes wastewater from showers, bathtubs, bathroom sinks, laundry tubs and washing machines, but not from toilets, kitchen sinks or dishwashers.
Homeowners still must follow state guidelines for installation and use. The rules require minimal contact between people and the gray water, for instance by covering the water-release point with at least 2 inches of rock, mulch or other material.
'GRAY WATER' FACTS
New state rules provide permit exemptions for some residential gray-water systems, but people still have to follow several requirements. They include:
The system must allow users to direct water to an irrigation field or the sewer.
Ponding and gray-water runoff are prohibited.
Gray water can be released above ground, but the discharge point must be covered by at least 2 inches of mulch, rock or other material that minimizes human contact.
Water used to wash diapers or other soiled garments must be sent to the sewer.
Gray water shouldn't be used on root vegetables.
Online: For more information about California's new standards for gray-water systems, go to uniontrib.com/more/gray.
Roughly 1.7 million gray-water systems are installed statewide. Most
are illegal because homeowners almost always avoid permits and the
Do-it-yourselfers can build a gray-water system for
$200 or less, but permitting-process costs can more than double the