1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

December 15, 2008

:350 Gray Water Best Practices

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:350 EcoTip: The use of gray water for landscaping and other types of reclaimed water use is becoming more popular. For a long time the use of gray water was discouraged and frequently required expensive and difficult permits. That is starting to change. If your area doesn’t permit the use of gray water yet – see if they won’t consider adopting the best practices published by the National Science Foundation.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :349


The following has been published by the National Science Foundation as best management practices for the use of gray water systems:

  • First and foremost, avoid human contact with gray water. 
  • You may use gray water for household gardening, composting, and lawn and landscape irrigation, but it should not run off your property. 
  • Do not surface irrigate any plants that produce food, except for citrus and nut trees. 
  • Use only flood or drip irrigation to water lawns and landscaping. Spraying gray water is prohibited. 
  • When determining the location for your gray water irrigation, remember that it cannot be in a wash or drainage way. 
  • Gray water may only be used in locations where groundwater is at least five feet below the surface. 
  • Label pipes carrying gray water under pressure if confusion between gray water and drinking water pipes is possible. 
  • Cover, seal and secure storage tanks to restrict access by small rodents and to control disease-carrying insects. 
  • Hazardous chemicals, such as antifreeze, mothballs and solvents, cannot be in gray water. Do not include wash water from greasy or oily rags in your gray water. 
  • Gray water from washing diapers or other infectious garments must be discharged to a residential sewer or other wastewater facility, or it can be disinfected prior to its use. 
  • Surface accumulation of gray water must be kept to a minimum. 
  • Should a backup occur, gray water must be disposed into your normal wastewater drain system. To avoid such a backup, consider using a filtration system to reduce plugging and extend the system’s lifetime. 
  • If you have a septic or other on-site wastewater disposal system, your gray water use does not change that system=s design requirements.

Additional information is at: http://www.sahra.arizona.edu/programs/water_cons/tips/re-use/gray.htm

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