By Stephanie Raygoza
In conjunction with the Long Beach Office of Sustainability and the Water Department, the City of Long Beach will soon be implementing a pilot graywater program through which a small number of households from each district will be selected to undertake approved graywater systems.
Spearheaded by Seventh District Councilmember James Johnson and passed in March, the “Laundry to Landscape” Graywater System programs take graywater discharged from laundry machines and reuses it to water gardens and landscapes rather than being discharged. Second District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal and Fourth District Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell have also backed the program.
“Efforts like this program can help us fundamentally change the way we look at water as something precious to be conserved and reused when possible, as opposed to something cheap that can be wasted or disposed of,” Johnson said in a press release on his website.
Graywater is classified as dirtier than potable, or “white,” water but cleaner than sewage water or “black” water. In previous years, state law discouraged the use of graywater. However, in August 2009, the State Plumbing Code was revised to encourage its use throughout the state.
In addition, Senate Bill 1258 directed the Department of Housing and Community Development to devise new graywater standards for residential properties.
“It is estimated that by using indoor water for landscapes, overall potable water use could decline by 14 to 40 percent,” Johnson disclosed in the program proposal. “Such savings would represent a fundamental shift in Long Beach’s demand and continue our reputation as a national leader in conservation.”
The program would utilize a particular type of graywater system that does not require a local permit and works by means of the clothes washer systems in single-family residencies only. Although the application process is still being finalized, residents will soon have the chance to enter the contest in hopes of being selected to receive the graywater system professionally installed for their property.
The water department will provide funding and installation is being completed by the Office of Sustainability Green Job Trainees with the guidance of a professional plumber.
According to Sustainability Coordinator Larry Rich, four winners will be selected from each district and upon passing an initial evaluation of their property against 12 graywater conditions, will receive the system by July or August. The system will cost an average of about $750.
“This is specially made for just the water coming from a washing machine to the backyard,” Rich said. “It wouldn’t be used to water lawns, just trees or shrubs.”
The program will allow the City to gather vital information to assess the amount of water conservation and most efficient use of graywater.
Rich encourages people to take part in the experience, as it will provide the City with a first-hand experience on how the systems work.
“Before the City promotes wide-scale use, we want to be involved in the process, how they work and what might be some of the issues,” Rich said.
Residents interested in learning more about the program and other sustainability efforts may visit sustainablelb.com or directly email Rich at email@example.com.