GRAY WATER RECLAMATION
You don't miss your water until your well runs day - country proverb
FACT: An average American family of four generates about 70 gallons of graywater a day! That is a lot of water going down the drain.
For comparison the average African family uses about 5 gallons of water each day.
What is Gray Water?
As its name connotes, graywater is of lesser quality than potable water, but of higher quality than black water. Blackwater is water flushed from toilets. Also, water from the kitchen sink, garbage disposal and dishwasher usually is considered blackwat er because of high concentrations of organic waste. Graywater derives from other residential water uses. Water from the bath, shower, washing machine, and bathroom sink are the sources of graywater.
Gray water composes 50–80% of residential wastewater generated from all of the house's sanitation equipment (excepting toilets).
The best method of reusing gray water, without using expensive treatment and disinfection methods, is through sub-surface irrigation which we just finished here on the urban homestead.
New CA Code
The State of California recently revised its plumbing code to allow simple gray water systems to be installed without a permit (this is bathtub/shower/sink/laundry water) for use in landscape irrigation.
Homeowners are still supposed to follow regular gray water regulations, which include not putting the water directly on parts of a plant to be consumed by people (so not on lettuces, greens, etc) and not allowing the water to exposed to the air, standing contained more than 24 hours.
Summary of the new code:
* no permit needed for a washing machine system if the system followed health and safety guidelines outlined in the code
* no permit for a singe fixture (one shower) if guidelines are followed
* mulch basins allowed (instead of gravel)
* other systems are separated into “simple” and “complex” depending on the quantity of water. There are less requirements for “simple” systems.
* depth of discharge is 2 inches under mulch (it used to be 9″ under dirt)
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