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Clean Green Watering Machine The graywater movement is helping Santa Cruzans rethink what happens at the other end of the drain 0G;/@7/5@CA/CA9/A
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VERY TIME Anne Smith washes her kidsâ€™ grass-stained sports uniforms, her agapanthus gets watered too. Itâ€™s a time-saving, water-conserving trick that may one day become commonplace as more and more people discover the benefits of recycling household â€œgraywater.â€? That dirty water laden with detergent, hair and other unmentionable cooties that drain from our washing machines, bathroom sinks and showers classifies as graywater, and it makes up more than half the average householdâ€™s water waste. Since 1928, graywater has been flushed into city sewers along with the â€œblackwaterâ€? that drains from toilets and kitchen sinks, sent to a water treatment center on Bay Street and later expelled
into the ocean via Monterey Bay. But with droughts, heightened awareness of water scarcity and a new emphasis on conservation, the fate of gray wastewater is beginning to change. And Santa Cruz, not surprisingly, is at the forefront of a growing movement to legally divert household graywater away from the sewer system and into the soil, where it can provide moisture for trees and other plants and recharge long-depleted water tables. In January, the California Building Standards Commission adopted a new plumbing code legalizing graywater reuse in residential buildings, a breakthrough that gives residents the go-ahead to rig up their own systems. Proponents say it can save money in the long run, relieve overstressed
septic systems and conserve the life-giving element. Most importantly, perhaps, it can help change the way people think about their water use. â€œInstead of calling it wastewater and shipping it downstream, graywater [reuse] goes with the idea that we all live downstream,â€? says Ken Foster of Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping, a member of the Central Coast Graywater Alliance. â€œIn nature there is no such thing as waste. One thingâ€™s waste is anotherâ€™s food. Graywater reuse transforms our concept of waste.â€? Unlike blackwater, graywater is safe and abundant enough to use for irrigating landscape and certain types of garden plants (itâ€™s not recommended for root crops, for example). Â¨ # If done right, the benefits can be manifold.
Published on Apr 15, 2010