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Greywater comes from your laundry washing machine, the bathroom sink, and shower or tub. The kitchen sink and dish washer are off limits and water cannot have been in contact with feces.  So you cannot use water from the toilet or wash diapers in your washing machine.

Greywater often contains a small amount of dirt, cleaning products, hair, grease or even food, such as when you wash your hands after a meal.  It may look “dirty,” but it is a safe and even a good source of irrigation water in  your back yard.

beforeThe simplest way to use greywater is to use it outside as close to the sink or shower as possible.  It
can never be released into rivers, lakes, or estuaries, but to your lawn, it is a fertilizer and better for the environment than water clean enough for human consumption.

Obviously you will save some water but it also helps your local sewage or septic system by lowering the volume of water that needs to be treated.  In regions such as Southern California it helps lower the risk of drought due to a water shortage.

*You will find both greywater and graywater used in many publications and web sites including ours.  They both mean the same exact thing. 


1.  You cannot store greywater or it will begin to smell very badly and it is not permitted for health concerns.

2.  Unlike fresh water, greywater is unsafe for human or pet consumption so it must soak into the ground and leave no standing water ever.

3. Design the simplest system that will work and do not use filters or pumps unless absolutely necessary.

4.  You must have a 3-way valve so that you can divert all your greywater to the sewer should that become necessary.  The valve must be easily  accessible and easily switched by hand with no tools. 

5.  Plan how much greywater you will generate and how you will distribute it.  In the case of a Washing Machine, it has a pump and no existing plumbing needs to be broken, so with a Laundry Drum or long hose you can use the water almost anywhere.

6.  Gravity feed systems are the easiest and require the least  maintenance.  Simply install 1.5 inch drain pipes with predrilled  seepage holes on a 2% grad with splits to divide up the flow.


California Greywater Guide

City of Santa Monica Plan Submittal Requirements

Links to other greywater sites.

Greywater is just one component of Total Water Management.

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