Guerilla Greywater Goes Public Policy

Once guerrilla, now becoming policy, greywater reuse is picking up in cities across the country.
May 23, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Now, the Guerrillas and other greywater advocates are taking their fight to state capitols and city halls. They want regulators to loosen plumbing codes that assume all wastewater flows straight to the sewer or septic tank. And they have a model for how to do it. Arizona now allows residents to install greywater systems without a permit, provided they use 400 gallons or fewer a day and meet certain performance standards. The city of Tucson has gone a step further. Last September, the city approved a regulation that, beginning in 2010, will require all new homes to include plumbing that enables greywater systems.

Similar laws are less likely in cold-weather climates where pipes freeze in the winter. But in the South and West, where populations are growing and water supplies tightening, increased household water reuse is a real possibility. New Mexico and Texas have approved laws similar to Arizona's. Now, California is looking at relaxing its rules, too. For greywater advocates, the change not only would legitimize plumbing work that thousands of people have done on the sly. It also would encourage others to install greywater systems-and make professional plumbers comfortable with taking jobs they otherwise can't touch without a permit.

An even bigger boost may be on its way in the next few years. The trade association that writes the Uniform Plumbing Code-a document that many states and localities defer to in their own codes-is looking at loosening rules for greywater and other alternative water sources."

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Published on Friday, May 1, 2009 in Governing
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