30 Aug 2008

Legalizing Graywater

California Senate Bill 1258 [PDF] is now law:
This bill would require the department [Department of Housing and Community Development], at the next triennial building standards rulemaking cycle that commences on or after January 1, 2009, to adopt and submit to the commission for approval building standards for the construction, installation, and alteration of graywater, as defined, systems for indoor and outdoor uses. The bill would terminate the authority of the Department of Water Resources to adopt graywater standards for residential buildings upon the approval by the commission of the standards submitted under the bill.
I spoke to a general contractor the other day. Potential customers are constantly calling him, trying to get graywater systems [prior post]. Trouble is that they are illegal ("It's not in the code"), and so he can't install them. (He's experimenting with some black-market fixtures in his house to learn how they work.)

Note this interesting definition:
For the purposes of this section, “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 wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom washbasins, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs, but does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks or dishwashers.
So shower water is ok but not sink water? Great. I see lawbreaking ahead.

Bottom Line: Nothing happens until the bureaucrats say so,* and this law at least pushes the bureaucrats in the right direction. The regulatory "solution" will probably take months (or years) and be too expensive, but it's better than the current criminalization of graywater systems.

hattip to DW

* "Put the government in charge of the Sahara, and I guarantee that there would be a shortage of sand within three years." -- Milton Friedman