Healthy Living: What are Grey Water Systems in Los Angeles? How Can They Positively Impact the Global Community?

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Healthy Living: What are Grey Water Systems in Los Angeles? How Can They Positively Impact the Global Community?

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Los Angeles, California has become an example of how NOT to use water in this drought traumatized state. The good news is that the awareness of the inefficiency of the current water delivery systems has motivated local LA residents to become responsible grey water re-users. As a major US city, Los Angeles may be leading the world in how to get it right. Healthy living is a priority in many communities.

Imported at a huge cost from extremely environmentally fragile areas, LA pumps its water from hundreds of miles away, draining water reservoirs from the surrounding Yosemite National Park areas using the Hetch Hetchy pipelines. This precious drinking water is then used on lawns, flowers and swimming pools.

The many healthy living Southern Californians who have become wise about water do their best to get as many uses as possible out of the same number of gallons. This means:

  • Collecting shower and bath water
  • Collecting washing machine water runoff
  • Collection of sink water from washing dishes

Once collected from these and other sources, it is then used on plants.

This version of recycled water, known as grey water, is different from “blackwater.” Blackwater is toilet waste. It will never be used again without complex and expensive treatment.

Water recycling of non-sewage city water has been practically pioneered in California. Due to a drought from 1977 to ‘78, the state of California offered tax breaks to residents. Anyone who installed a grey water system was eligible. This ended as soon as the rain began to fall again.

Pilot Project Success

LA started their healthy living grey water pilot project in the middle of a drought that started in 1987. It was abandoned when the rains returned in the 1990’s. Permits were offered to gardeners and homeowners, yet sign-off was required through the county health department and very few permits were offered. Revisions came with the state’s 2010 plumbing code. The new laws can be confusing.

What is clear for today’s LA residents is that all grey water being delivered to outdoor plants and gardens needs to flow under two inches of either soil or mulch. This way healthy living people and pets can’t come into contact with it. No official permitting is currently needed.

Other requirements include:

  • This water can’t be allowed to pool above ground
  • It needs to be directed back into the closest sewer
  • Any reports of odors or other health issues will be handled by the LA county health department
  • Cutting into pipes or mixing clean water with the grey water is strictly prohibited

This simple system has evolved directly within the urban landscape through necessity. Like with all well-tuned healthy living sustainable systems, it can be repeated and implemented anywhere in the world. LA residents are not only helping showcase local water sustainability, they are demonstrating how direct application and consistent use can evolve into a well-established approach.

For more news and information about sustainable lifestyles, visit the online center today,  where every aspect of daily living can be transformed into the sustainable and responsible approach for our planet.

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