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Graywater Is Not Reclaimed Water

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During the most recent droughts here in the Southeast United States and the West, a great deal of attention has been paid to the potential for the use of graywater in homes and businesses for a variety of non-potable uses. Suggested uses have ranged from toilet flushing to the watering of gardens, including edible vegetables. The use of graywater has been widely promoted by many communities without a true understanding of the nature of the water quality and the potential for public health issues as a result of its use. Critics of the widespread use of graywater are trying to get the message out that graywater is not reclaimed water.

Whether the increased use of graywater is promoted as a way of reducing drought impacts, or it conflicts with existing plumbing standards, its increased use has certainly impacted the public's perception as a new water resource. This paper traces the history of the development of the public's interest in the use of graywater, the political framework under which it has been so widely endorsed, and the stark contrast with the much more highly purified reclaimed water. Case studies are presented and include the issues associated with graywater use in the east (North Carolina) and the west (Las Vegas, Nevada.)

This paper is largely derived from a study completed by Dr. James Crook and technically reviewed by Dr. Alan Rimer [2009]. Each of the case studies illustrates that graywater is not reclaimed water, cannot be substituted for reclaimed water and has limited use, even with treatment, in commercial establishments.

Keywords: Graywater; reclaimed water; recycled water

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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