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TCEQ offers new water reuse guide for homeowners

April 18, 2018 - Keep your lawn and garden lush without wasting resources

Summer is coming and there is nothing worse than a high water bill from watering all those plants and lawn. But did you know you could save from 30 to 50 percent on your water bill if you harvest rain water or install a graywater system at your residence? The TCEQ now has a guide, Graywater and Alternative On-Site Water: A Guide for Homeowners, that provides an overview of the requirements for the use of an alternative on-site water and/or graywater reuse system by private residences.

So, the question to ask is, how will these requirements affect me as a homeowner? It all depends on the type of system you install in your private residence.

Outdoor water collection: Alternative On-site Water Reuse Systems

alternative on-site water system These systems store and distribute water from these sources: rainwater, stormwater, air-conditioner condensation, water that drains from the foundation of a home, swimming-pool backwash and drain water, and reverse-osmosis reject water. (Reverse osmosis is a water purification technology that uses a semipermeable membrane to remove ions, molecules, and larger particles from collected water.)

Once collected, the water from an alternative on-site water reuse system can be used for landscape irrigation, gardening and composting, foundation stabilization, or flushing of toilets or urinals.

Do you need to obtain authorization from the TCEQ to use an alternative water reuse system? No, as long as the system is operated and maintained in compliance with the rules.

Indoor water collection: Graywater Reuse Systems

These systems store and distribute water from these sources: showers, bathtubs, hand-washing lavatories, sinks that are not used for food preparation or disposal, sinks that are used for the disposal of household or domestic products, and clothes-washing machines. It is important to note that a graywater reuse system cannot contain, store, or distribute alternative on-site water, wastewater from the washing of material soiled with human waste like diapers, or wastewater that has come in contact with toilet waste.

For a graywater reuse system, homeowners need to obtain a permit from the TCEQ only if 400 gallons of graywater or more per day are used, or the system has the potential to cause negative impacts on human health or the environment. The graywater must originate from a private residence and must not overflow onto the ground under any circumstances. The water storage tanks must have restricted access, especially to children, and not become a breeding ground for mosquitos and other insects.

If graywater is used for toilet or urinal flushing, all exposed piping must be either purple or painted purple and must have the warning “Non-Potable Water” stenciled in yellow. When graywater is used for toilet or urinal flushing, piping carrying graywater within a residence must be either purple or painted purple. In addition, when graywater is used for toilet or urinal flushing, all buried piping must be manufactured in purple or be marked in some way in purple. purple pipes for graywater

If a residential graywater system was installed before the effective date of this rule, Dec. 29, 2016, the homeowner must comply with the requirements that were in effect when the system was installed. There is specific guidance for homeowners who usually dispose of laundry graywater from clothes-washing machines directly to the ground. There is also specific guidance on how homeowners with a graywater reuse system may choose to reduce the size of their on-site sewage facility. This includes obtaining a permit from their on-site sewage facility permitting authority and meeting the requirements and conditions indicated in the guide.

General requirements

Both alternative on-site water and graywater reuse systems must:

  • not allow ponding, pooling, or runoff
  • have no runoff across property lines or onto any paved surface
  • not create a nuisance, threaten human health, or damage quality of surface or groundwater

Combined Reuse Systems

The new regulatory guidance also outlines the use of combined reuse systems, which store and distribute a combination of graywater and alternative on-site water. These requirements are listed in detail in the guide and include: flow, storage-tank, spray distribution, flushing water and piping requirements.

Download the guide

For more information on the new regulatory guidance, homeowners can download the guide online, Graywater and Alternative On-Site Water: A Guide for Homeowners or contact the TCEQ’s Small Business and Local Government Assistance Section at: 800-447-2827.

The advantages of having an alternative on-site water and graywater reuse system for the homeowner are cost savings and a greater awareness of water conservation. The guide gives the public information that outlines how to take part in the water reuse process. The biggest win for the state is a reduced demand on freshwater resources in Texas.

Photos courtesy of: Rain barrel © Dendron iStock collection/Thinkstock. Purple pipes © rschlie iStock collection/Thinkstock.