The Oregon state plumbing board will meet to discuss new rules that would allow reuse of greywater in homes.
In late June,
Oregon state building code regulators will consider passing new rules to allow
homeowners to collect and use greywater ― water used in sinks, showers or
clothes washers ― for flushing toilets. Current Oregon building codes allow
homeowners to collect and reuse rainwater for these applications, but codes are
murky when it comes to recycling greywater.
new rules, proposed by the State Building Codes Division to the Oregon State
Plumbing Board, would help ease concerns from conservationists and policy
makers about using treated drinking water to flush toilets.
with building code barriers is a huge challenge to (water) conservation,” Tom
Osdoba, economic development manager for the Portland Office of
Sustainability, told Portland’s Daily Journal of Commerce.
“We have to figure out how to get out of the way of innovation.”
reuse has been avoided by many states’ codes in applications that involve human
contact, such as showers and sinks, due to health concerns over the water
quality. Greywater is classified as non-potable water, which isn’t suitable for
drinking and may contain microbes or harmful chemicals.
admit that some issues need to be worked out. However, standard reuse systems
contain their own filtering and treatment systems. In addition, further
measures could be taken to ensure public health standards are maintained, such
as color-coding greywater pipes.
Murray, a lobbyist with Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290, told the
Daily Journal of Commerce that the fix is fairly simple, but
it must be mandated and incorporated into licensing and training. “The big
concern about non-potable water sources is an untrained person would cut a T
into a non-potable line and make people sick,” Murray said. “That’s called a
cross connection, and we take that very seriously.”
codes and building agency would also need to clear a path to determine the
level of treatment required on household water before it can be used; BCD will
need to go to the state legislature. The uniform plumbing code, which serves as
the basis for state building codes, already contains standards for reuse of greywater.
However greywater is regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality in
Oregon, so the legislature must grant BCD jurisdiction over the issue before
the agency can change the commercial code.
“If the BCD proposal succeeds in
the legislature, Oregon would join Arizona and New Mexico as the only states to
adopt standards for reuse of greywater,” the Daily Journal of
Commerce reports. “If approved, homeowners in Oregon could install
systems for reuse of greywater as early as July.”
State Seeks Rules To Keep Drinking Water Out Of Toilets
June 5, 2008