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The 90 Day Plan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

[SASC] Join Us in Supporting Graywater Use

FWD: [SASC] Join Us in Supporting Graywater Use

Dear Fellow Sustainability Advocates:


During our regular meeting on October 27, the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California adopted the following official policy position regarding graywater use in Southern California:


"It is the policy of the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California to promote maximum implementation of graywater systems in Southern California.  We encourage all jurisdictions within Southern California to proactively support regulatory approval for graywater systems and that incentives, including cash rebates, sewage rate reductions, or reduction in water rates, be evaluated."


We are taking this position of support for graywater reuse for a number of reasons: 


1) Simplest way to reclaim and reuse a valuable resource without expensive treatment and re-distribution.

2) Provides a readily available water source for irrigation of yards and greenbelts.

3) Conserves our most precious resource—fresh, potable water.

4) Cuts down on the amount of electricity needed to move water to and throughout our region.

5) Reduces the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated at publicly owned treatment works resulting in less effluent disposed of through ocean outfalls.

6) Less water treated translates to a reduction in related treatment costs and chemicals used in the treatment process.


Supporting this policy now makes sense because...

1) California is in a declared State of Emergency due to extended drought conditions and much needed, potable water is used to irrigate residential landscapes.

2) Statewide legislation supporting use of graywater was recently incorporated into existing building codes, 'opting in' every municipality for graywater use. To opt out, a municipality must hold a public hearing and show just cause for restricting or eliminating graywater use.


a) SB 1258 (which was signed into law in September 2008) directed the Housing and Community Development (HCD) agency to propose building standards for the construction, installation, and alteration of graywater systems for residential indoor and outdoor uses to the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC). Existing graywater standards contained in the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, California Plumbing Code, Part 5, Appendix G were based on requirements for private sewage disposal. These standards were found to be overly prescriptive and antiquated and not readily usable by people seeking to install graywater systems for the purpose of water conservation and reuse.


b) The emergency graywater regulations, which added Chapter 16A, Part I "Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems,” were approved by the CBSC on July 30, 2009. The emergency regulations were subsequently filed with the Secretary of State on August 4, 2009, effective immediately upon filing.


 The two most significant changes in the new regulations:

1) Single Fixture Systems (such as clothes washers) no longer require a permit and

2) Irrigation lines no longer have to be buried 9 inches, but can simply be placed under 2 inches of mulch.

Considerations for graywater use:

1)    It’s best to use non-chlorine bleach when washing clothes.

2)    Distribute graywater as widely as possible rather than concentrate (such as in a trench), choosing which zones to saturate, either automatically, or by hand. 

3)    For optimal results, blend subsoil with a thick layer of bio-dynamic organic matter/topsoil and cover with 1-2 inches of mulch. 


Advocates are encouraged to have impact on this issue by:


1) Getting your city council to put the item on their calendar and providing supporting testimony during the formal discussion and vote about whether to adopt the policy position for your city/county.


2) Getting your organization or group to begin promoting graywater use. If so inclined, you can adopt the policy position above.



Thank you for your help guiding our region to implement sustainable practices.


In Partnership for Sustainability,



Anne Tolch
(619) 518-3178
Communication Director

The Sustainability Alliance of Southern California

Sustainability for the Region and Beyond



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