Oceanside dusts off its greywater permit process

Oceanside dusts off its greywater permit process
Oceanside is looking for ways to meet the state water reduction mandate. Greywater systems may be part of the answer. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — To help reach the 25 percent state mandated water cutbacks, Councilman Chuck Lowery asked city staff to dust off the greywater permit process at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

Household greywater systems allow residents to divert household water that goes down shower and sink drains onto irrigation of ornamental landscaping

“It seems like something we can use right now,” Lowery said.

City rules have been in place for several years that require a $232 permit fee, and spell out how to divert water and meet health requirements set by the California Plumbing Code.

For one, greywater systems irrigate landscaping below the ground. This protects people from direct contact with greywater. It also eliminates irrigation over spray and runoff.

Greywater cannot be used to water fruit trees or vegetables.

Presently, systems are limited to sink and shower water runoff, including kitchen sinks if food waste is not a part of the runoff.

Diverting water runoff from a home washing machine is simpler. Since it does not involve modifying existing systems or waterline uses, it can be done without a city permit.

Lowery said most washing machines use 25 gallons of water a load. Diverting that water to landscaping would reduce household water use and lessen the amount of water that goes through the wastewater system.

Francesco Dorigo, CEO of Advanced Water Recycling, said greywater systems have the potential to reduce household water use by 50 percent. He has a demonstration system set up in his Carlsbad home that diverts all used household water.

“We used 32 units of water on average per month,” Dorigo said. “Now we’re taking just as many showers and using 8 to 10 units at most.”

“(Greywater systems) are very safe and have many advantages.”

He added with most people’s water use already cut back as far as possible, technology is the answer to further reduction.

Dorigo and fellow greywater systems experts at the meeting urged the City Council to make greywater systems a requirement in new builds, and pursue state Proposition 1 water conservation funds to help lower system installation costs for homeowners.

Before the meeting adjourned city staff was already in motion. Rick Brown, a city chief building official, contacted Stephen Bilson, owner of ReWater Systems and a pioneer in greywater systems, to talk about a city application for Proposition 1 funding.

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