Thursday, December 10, 2009

Water and My Neighbor, Jerry

Water has many uses…the primary one could be reuse.

My neighbor, Jerry, had placed a 5 gallon bucket under a leaky rain gutter. He didn’t want drips to stain his wood deck. The pail was full and, instead of throwing it over the 4 ½ ft. railing, it was simpler to walk 20 feet and pour it into a planter at the front of his house.

If anything, Jerry’s practical. All of which brings me to the point – water reuse. It sounds simple. In the initial stages of the process, it is.

Jerry could just as easily have tossed snow from his sidewalk into the planter or, local laws permitting, re-directed water from his shower drain to another planter in his yard… Greywater, as it’s called, distinct from water from sanitary lines, can be used in innumerable ways from the garden to washing a car.

According to Arizona guidelines, greywater may be obtained from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower or sink, but not from a kitchen sink, dishwasher or toilet.

A brochure titled, “Using Greywater at Home” outlines many uses and procedures and may be obtained from

Although not codified into law, the guidelines carry a valuable list of do’s and don’ts when working with secondary water sources including where and when it can be used safely. You can’t take water from your toilet and throw it outside nor do you want to use it on certain plants.

But, it’s inexpensive…and because you’ve already paid for it, you might as well use it again.

Writing in the Santa Barbara (California) Independent, Ben Preston, staff reporter, points out, “It also requires that homeowners, if they weren't already doing so, use biodegradable laundry soap, as traditional soaps would harm the plants. ‘As long as you're using the right products, greywater irrigation makes a lot of sense,’” says Laura Allen, Oakland, California, and a member of California-based Greywater Action. “She has been using greywater on her kiwi and apricot trees and berry bushes for a decade,” reports the Santa Barbara Independent.

Preston continues, “Already in place in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Nevada and other Western states, standards spelling out how best to use water were also passed by the California Building Standards Commission on Aug. 4…”

I’ll order a brochure for Jerry. He really doesn’t have enough to do in his retirement with several antique cars and a business.

Me?...I’ve got no yard.