Increasing graywater usage part of La Jolla council rep’s water conservation strategy

District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner proposed changes to the city’s graywater policies to encourage San Diegans to install graywater systems that help conserve water and save money.

Widely used in cities like Santa Barbara and Phoenix, graywater systems allow untreated wastewater from a home’s washing machines, bathtubs, showers and sinks to be recycled on-site for such uses as outdoor irrigation.

Currently, San Diego has unclear and contradictory rules regarding graywater, which has inhibited the use of such systems. Lightner made the following recommendations at the Council’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee meeting earlier this month:

• Create a “no permit” required police for simple graywater systems that discharge less than 250 gallons a day.

• Move the oversight of simple graywater systems from the purview of the city’s Development Services Department to the Public Utilities Department to eliminate fees and improve accountability.

• Establish a rebate program for those who want to install larger, more complex graywater systems, reimbursing up to one-third of all permitting costs.

• Explore incentives for developers to include “graywater-ready” plumbing for all new residential construction.

“These simple policy changes would not only cut red tape but encourage water recycling and help San Diego conserve more water,” Lightner said. “The less water we use, the less reliant San Diego will be on costly imported water.”

The committee referred the recommendations to the Water Policy Task Force for vetting and asked the group to provide their input so the city council can act on the proposals.

Part of Lightner’s Comprehensive Water Policy, the Water Policy Task Force is charged with developing an a plan to ensure San Diego has an affordable and sustainable water supply. It is slated to provide a final report by June 2013.

--Staff Reports