The City of San Diego graywater rebates are now available for simple and complex systems. Now it's even easier to reuse your waste graywater (aka 'greywater' if you're of the British English inclination) to irrigate your landscape.
Graywater is water that is produced as "waste" from water sources such as laundry washer machines, bathroom sinks, bathroom showers, and bathtubs. Graywater is seen as "less" dirty water that doesn't have high levels of organic contaminants or fecal matter that comes from kitchen sinks or dishwasher machines or toilets.
Example illustration of a typical residential graywater systems. Image courtesy of The City of San Diego
Here is the actual language from the The City of San Diego Bulletin 208 (07/2014):
Graywater is defined as untreated wastewater that has not been contaminated by any toilet discharge, has not been affected by infectious, contaminated, or unhealthy bodily wastes, and does not present a threat from contamination by unhealthful processing, manufacturing, or operating wastes. Graywater includes but is not limited to wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom washbasins, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs, but does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, toilets or bidets
Rebates are offered at two tiers:
No-permit systems, like laundry-to-landscape graywater systems, offer a rebate on materials purchases of $150-$250. Labor or other install costs are not covered and you must have spent a minimum of $150 to qualify. That should not be too hard as retail pricing for the required three-way valve, associated PVC piping and 1" poly tubing and irrigation valve boxes will easily exceed that threshold.
Any system that ties into the house sinks or showers/tubs, stores graywater in a surge tank, or is excessively large and complex will require a permit. Thankfully, since 2013, The City of San Diego has pushed to streamline the permitting process. The graywater rebates for permitted systems covers up to $1000 for materials and rebate fees. Again, no rebates are allowed for labor or other installation costs.
An average San Diegan uses 160 gallons of potable water a day; that's almost 60,000 gallons a year, per person! Plants aren't as picky with water as us humans, and that graywater is a perfect fit for many plant species, especially thirsty fruit trees. By reusing your graywater, you can cut back on the amount of potable irrigation water that you currently use on your landscape. Bonus: since we're all trying to install more drought friendly gardens and landscapes, by reusing our graywater in the landscape we can keep a few of our thirstier plants like mangoes or peaches to enjoy, guilt free! Just be sure to use soaps and detergents that are biocompatible and do not contain salts such as sodium or boron. Our blog post on greywater has more details. This LA Times article about graywater systems is also a useful resource.
Josh Robinson installing a laundry-to-landscape greywater system.
We have experience installing graywater systems, both no-permit and permitted systems. If you'd like to reuse your water to irrigate your landscape and qualify for one of the two San Diego graywater rebates, don't hesitate to reach out! If you're looking for very complex graywater systems, we can't recommend highly enough our friend Rosalind Haselbeck of Catching H20 who has worked on a wide variety of complex, and simple, graywater installations around San Diego County.
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