Water reuse gains ground in California, Atlanta

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. and ATLANTA — Water recycling and reuse gained ground with two laws passed in California and Atlanta.

In California, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. has signed California AB 849, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), written to expand use of graywater in buildings. It was the intent of the legislation to encourage the use of graywater systems and to provide consistency and uniformity in the implementation of graywater standards in the state.

According to a statement by the state legislature, “It is the intent of the Legislature to support innovation in the development of graywater technology that promotes prudent water conservation efforts for this state.”

The law also gives considerable leeway to local public health departments in determining if graywater is appropriate. Local jurisdictions can restrict use of graywater if, “the local climatic, geological, topographical, or public health conditions that necessitate building standards that are more restrictive than the graywater building standards adopted pursuant to state requirements and shall be limited to the specific area of the city, county, or local agency where the conditions exist.”

In Atlanta, the city council passed an ordinance entitled, “Requirements for rainwater catchment systems for single-family residential potable use.” The ordinance noted the importance of alternative water systems for the city and that statewide in 2009 the Georgia Amendments to the International Plumbing Code introduced Appendix I “Rain Water Recycling Systems,” allowing rainwater catchment systems.

In general, the Atlanta requirements mirror those of the International Plumbing Code.

The Atlanta ordinance aims to regulate the installation and maintenance of rainwater systems. It requires that rainwater-harvesting systems be installed by licensed plumbers and that all applicable permits be pulled. It also mandates that building owners maintain such systems annually according to manufacturer recommendations.

The ordinance includes health and safety requirements, such as use of non-toxic and lead-free materials throughout. In addition, potable rainwater catchment systems must be treated to prevent sediment and water borne organisms that may exist from reaching the end point of use. The safeguards include sediment filtration, carbon filters for taste and odor, and disinfection through chemical injection, ozone generators, or ultraviolet light. If ozone generators are used, provisions shall be made for venting per manufacturer recommendations.
The Atlanta law recommends testing for general water quality parameters at least every six months. Standard coliform tests for microbial contaminants are also recommended at least every six months.

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