Efficient use of energy and water are key elements of green building or sustainable construction. With the announcement by the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) in April 2012 that they are now accepting applications for graywater permits for sub-surface irrigation of landscaping, Oregonians now have a full complement of water conservation measures available to them.
Graywater is “used” water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks, washing machines and, in the case of graywater systems for outdoor use, water from the kitchen sinks as well.
The State of Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) approved statewide alternate methods (SAMs) for rainwater harvesting and for using graywater, or water conservation systems, for flushing toilets in both residential and commercial construction in 2008. These methods apply in every Oregon city and county because Oregon has a statewide building codes system. Since rainwater or graywater systems within a structure are regulated by Oregon’s Plumbing Code, they require obtaining a plumbing permit from your local building department.
If you want to use graywater for irrigating trees or plants you need to obtain a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Oregon homeowners who want to find out about installing a graywater system for subsurface irrigation may want check out a publication available on DEQ’s website called Reusing Graywater in your landscape: A Guide for Oregon Homeowners.