Graywater in Long Beach

In January 2010, the California plumbing code was updated to include new specific guidelines governing the design and installation of all graywater systems. For a system that uses a clothes washer, no City permits are required if State guidelines are followed.

A typical washing machine uses 15 gallons of water a day per person. Water discharged from washing machines, bathtubs and sinks is considered graywater, dirtier than potable water but cleaner than sewage water or "black" water. Graywater irrigation systems are safe for watering most vegetable gardens, though are not recommended for root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.

For more information regarding graywater systems and resources please visit the following:

"Laundry to Landscape" Pilot Program

On August 23, 2011 the City of Long Beach unveiled a pilot program for residents to conserve resources by using water from their washing machines for simple irrigation systems for trees, shrubs and gardens. Through a lottery, 33 homes were selected to have a graywater system installed that diverts water from the clothes washing machine into mulch basins where it irrigates the landscape.

The systems installed include a valve to manage the flow of the graywater from the washing machine, and can divert the graywater to the sewage system when necessary - for instance, when bleach or harsh detergents are used in the laundry. Benefits include reduced water consumption, natural purification of graywater and reduced stress on the sewage system.

The installations in approved homes were performed by Office of Sustainability Staff and a contracted plumber, with the help of Workforce job trainees between February 2012 and June 2013.