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Using Gray Water to Ease Drought Effects

Gray Water Systems Permitted in Oceanside

Oceanside CA— The State of California is in the middle of an historic drought. Governor Brown has issued a call for a reduction of 25% in water use. The City of Oceanside has been a leader in water conservation and has reduced usage city-wide by 20%. While these measures are in line with the call for increased conservation, some residents have expressed a desire to do more.

Residential gray water systems collect and reuse water that would otherwise be discharged down the drain. Water from showers, washing machines or lavatory and kitchen sinks can be diverted from the sewer and used to irrigate landscapes. Prior to 2007, there were no guidelines in place to allow for these systems; currently, the California Plumbing Code includes guidelines that allow for the installation of gray water systems. The City of Oceanside adopts the State Plumbing Code every three years and, because of this, the City of Oceanside currently permits gray water systems.

“This is great news for the residents of Oceanside who want to do everything they can to help with drought conditions,” said Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery. “Gray water is a way of reducing potable water consumption, along with increasing capacity in our sewer system.” As a proponent of water conservation, Lowery currently uses gray water to irrigate his backyard landscape.

The city currently allows for all types of gray water systems; the cost of a permit for a system is approximately $232.00. Depending on the type of system, the amount of work to retrofit your home may be costly. All gray water irrigation must be sub-surface to reduce the risk of contact by other humans and animals. In addition to health and safety concerns, sub-surface irrigation is proven to reduce the amount of water needed to maintain a healthy landscape.

It is easy and inexpensive to begin using gray water in your home. “Washing machine water can be used very easily to irrigate landscapes,” points out Lowery. “A simple diversion from the drain to the garden is easy to do and, the good news is, proper installation requires no permit. You’re ready to start today.”

The current California Plumbing code can be found [here] You can download the Oceanside Gray Water information bulletin [here]

For more information about permits for gray water systems, please contact David Gans in the City of Oceanside Building Division at 760-435-3932.

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