Greywater, or graywater, can also be called a “Non-Potable Water Reuse System”.

“Graywater” means untreated wastewater that has not been contaminated by any toilet discharge, has not been affected by infectious, contaminated, or unhealthy bodily wastes, and does not present a threat from contamination by unhealthful processing, manufacturing, or operating wastes. “Graywater” includes but is not limited to wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom washbasins, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs, but does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks or dishwashers.” Water from the kitchen sink, dishwashers and toilets constitute ‘blackwater’ and cannot be reused.

CA Dept. of Housing and Community Development accepted the use of laundry based greywater systems without the need for a permit in 2009:  “A construction permit shall not be required for a clothes washer system which does not require cutting of the existing plumbing.” A simple greywater reuse system comprised of laundry wastewater flowing into a series of mulch basins is a great way to turn a water consuming lawn into a food producing and drought tolerant space.

The City of Santa Cruz offers information and workshops about greywater online.  The following link is also a good resource for information about laundry to landscape greywater systems in Santa Cruz City. The following is also a link that provides resources on Laundry to Landscape Greywater Systems for Santa Cruz County.

Another local resource is the Central Coast Greywater Alliance.  They say that, “Greywater irrigation conserves our precious water resources, conserves energy needed to pump and treat water, and saves money on your water bill!”  They also feature a “1,000 System Challenge” and have a map of all registered greywater systems in the Central Coast.

In addition, Art Ludwig and Oasis Design offer great resources on Greywater Systems and Greywater Reuse. Oasis Design explains: “It’s a waste to irrigate with great quantities of drinking water when plants thrive on used water containing small bits of compost. Unlike a lot of ecological stopgap measures, grey water reuse is a part of the fundamental solution to many ecological problems and will probably remain essentially unchanged in the distant future. The benefits of grey water recycling include:

  • Lower fresh water use
  • Less strain on failing septic tank or treatment plant
  • Better treatment (topsoil is many times more effective than subsoil or treatment plant)
  • Less energy and chemical use
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Plant growth
  • Reclamation of otherwise wasted nutrients
  • Increased awareness of and sensitivity to natural cycles”

Daniel at Mederi Co-Operative is trained in Permaculture Design and has worked with Art Ludwig of Oasis Design and Brad Lancaster of Rainwater Harvesting. Please contact him for a smart water use and recovery consultation.