Reusing Houshold Water (Greywater) Editorial – Maui News

June 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

There’s a way to ease the drain on Maui’s water supplies with the only cost to government being the time needed to revise current rules and regulations. Homeowner recycling of household graywater is illegal due to concerns about contaminating groundwater.

Arizona allows homeowners to use water from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower and bathroom sink to irrigate landscaping by drip or flood irrigation. Kitchen sinks and, of course, toilets must be connected to sewer or septic systems. Spray irrigation is not permitted and the graywater flow must be less than 400 gallons a day.

Homeowners using graywater irrigation need to use detergents that are low in chlorides, sodium, borax, sulfates and alkaline content – chemicals that are harmful to plants. There are an increasing number of so-called “green detergents” readily available.

It’s estimated that up to 1 million Californians are breaking state law by hooking drains to irrigation systems. The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development is trying to come up with new rules covering graywater irrigation.

There’s a long tradition on Maui of piping toilet and kitchen wastewater into septic systems and running water from bathtubs, bathroom sinks and washing machines out into a pasture or lawn. A washing machine uses about 15 gallons of water for every load of wash. Irrigation was a byproduct limited to the end of the pipe. The idea was to avoid overloading septic systems.

Household use of recycled water for landscaping looks to be safe, if handled properly. Arizona has found a way. Just last week, the Maui County Department of Water Supply was urging consumers to cut back water use, although conscientious homeowners have long since figured out ways to make sure every drop of water is used efficiently.

It’s more than apparent that it will soon be essential to get maximum mileage out of water and find safe ways to use graywater from wastewater treatment plants and from Maui’s individual households.

Maui News, June 9, 2009

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Entry filed under: Political Action, Recycling & Conservation, Water. Tags: , .

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