Long Beach to fund graywater sustainability program

Athena Mekis
Staff Writer

Long Beach residents will have another opportunity to “go green” as the City of Long Beach funds “Laundry to Landscape,” a graywater pilot program which diverts a single-family home’s used laundry water to their property’s landscape.
The unveiling of the program was on Aug. 23 at the Long Beach Water Department where Mayor Bob Foster, 7th District Councilmember James Johnson, Board of Water Commissioners Vice President Frank Clarke and Sustainability Coordinator Larry Rich discussed details of the program.
“The potential for using graywater is enormous, and this is a great step toward realizing that potential,” Johnson said at the unveiling.
Every household’s wastewater is graywater, except for toilet water, according to Timothy Collier, owner of The Green Plumber plumbing company.
Laundry machines have been specifically chosen for this pilot program because residents do not need a city permit to install the graywater system.
“It can be a do-it-yourself project,” Johnson said.
The Laundry to Landscape program was proposed by 2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal, 4th District Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell and Johnson.
They are working in partnership with the Long Beach Office of Sustainability, which reviewed the environmental report on graywater from the University of California, Los Angeles and the Long Beach Water Department, who is funding the project.
“It is believed that Long Beach is the first city in Southern California to municipally fund a graywater system,” Foster said at the unveiling.
The Office of Sustainability will randomly select 36 participating, single-family homes (four from each district) to participate.
The plumbing and irrigation system is expected to cost $750 for each home, Rich said.
Graywater plumbing was legalized in Santa Barbara in 1989, according to the City of Santa Barbara website.
Another type of sustainable water use is reclaimed water, which is sent through a drainpipe to a reclamation plant and then sent back through those same pipes.
Commercial and industrial businesses such as golf courses and carwashes use reclaimed water.
According to the International Carwash Association website, under the federal Clean Water Act, all commercial carwashes in the U.S. must use reclaimed water.
To enter the Laundry to Landscape drawing, visit SustainableLB.com. Information such as property size, number of household members and type of washing machine will be needed. The tentative deadline to apply is Sept. 30.
For more information, contact the Long Beach Sustainability office at (563) 570-6281 or Larry Rich at (562) 570-5839.

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