Proposed Law Could Permit Reusing Graywater


Every time you do a load of laundry or take a shower, the extra water goes down the drain and is flushed into the city or county’s water system.

And a new Oregon law could encourage people to re-use that water in their gardens.

There’s faucet water that you drink, black water that you flush, and graywater leftover from a bath or a load of laundry.

And it’s that gray water that the Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality wants to encourage the reuse of.

“That’s still perfectly usable in irrigating and recharging back into the Earth,” said Nir Pearlson, Graywater Advisor for DEQ.

The average household uses more than 180 gallons of water a day taking a shower or washing their hands. But 60 percent of that could be reused as graywater rather than going down the drain.

“Kind of catching the water, before it mixes with black water and basically putting a diversion valve. Some kind of a system that would divert the water,” Pearlson said.

The DEQ is in the process of creating a permitting system to legalize gardening with graywater.

“(It’s) water which is really perfectly fine for irrigation, and use it for that purpose,” Pearlson said. This August, the Environmental Quality Commission should approve the DEQ’s recommendations, so plumbers and hardware stores should be prepared with the necessary tools to revamp your piping.

“A filter, pump, some kind of storage if you want to take that system, and a distribution system,” Pearlson said.

If the DEQ’s goal is to promote recycling your water, why are they adding permit fees and implementing rules and regulations?

Pearlson says the state must regulate the practice for your protection.

“Keep it sanitary so there’s no overflow off each property so my gray water doesn’t affect you if you’re a neighbor of mine, so it doesn’t end up discharging on to your property if you don’t want that,” Pearlson said.

That means your grass could soon be looking more green, thanks to gray.

The DEQ is hosting public hearings all throughout Oregon during February and March with one meeting held in Eugene on March 2.

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