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Grey Water Recycling: Simple, Practical, and Legal

Submitted by Marcia Penner Freedman –

The Madera County Board of Supervisors, in an effort to encourage water conservation throughout the county, has adopted a plan to assist Madera County residents in implementing grey water recycling in their homes.

Yes, grey water recycling is legal, and has been for some time. But prior to the revisions to the California Plumbing Code (CPC) that regulates grey water — revisions which occurred in 2010 and 2013 — grey water was considered a nuisance and a health hazard and was tightly regulated by building and health departments.

Now, with the CPCs of 2010 and 2013 in place, grey water recycling has become a simple and inexpensive pursuit, and, with proper installation and prompt use of the recycled water, it poses no public health or personal health risks.

What is grey water? The 2013 CPC describes grey water as untreated waste water that has not been contaminated by any toilet discharge or any other contaminating process or situation. If you think about it, your home is a grey water manufacturing machine. You can safely recycle grey water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom wash basins, clothes washing machines and laundry tubs. A family of four, for example, can produce 160 usable gallons of grey water every day, enough to irrigate 1,129 square feet of landscape.

In addition to the conservation of water and the availability of ample water to irrigate the landscape, there are many collateral positive side effects to grey water recycling that impact the private homeowner, the community, and the environment.

Some examples: By diverting water away from septic tanks and municipal treatment plants grey water recycling reduces stress on those systems. Also, less energy is used and fewer chemicals are needed for treating waste water. And, over the long run, the public’s awareness and sensitivity to the cycles that occur in our natural world will result in an environmentally enlightened and activist public.

The Board of Supervisors has created an information piece entitled GREY WATER: A brief explanation of what Grey Water is and how it can be recycled. This is a PowerPoint presentation that includes suggestions, diagrams, and detailed explanations for planning and implementing a grey water system.

Accompanying the grey water information piece is a PowerPoint presentation entitled How to Harvest Rainwater. This piece provides a step by step explanation and photos of up-to-date methods for catching, storing and transporting rainwater.

Both of these information pieces can be accessed online at the Madera County website http://www.madera-county.com/index.php/county-forms/category/458-district-1-presentations. In addition, the Board of Supervisors invites the public to call the Building Department (559-675-7821) and the Environmental Health Department (559-675-7823) with questions and concerns.

Submitted by Marcia Penner Freedman
Coarsegold Resource Conservation District

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