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Environment & Science

Greywater presents possible solution to California's drought




Blue oak trees up to 500 years old thrive in California's drought-scorched foothills. Their rings provide a unique record of drought and wetness for the Golden State
Blue oak trees up to 500 years old thrive in California's drought-scorched foothills. Their rings provide a unique record of drought and wetness for the Golden State
Courtesy of Daniel Griffin

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New water restrictions could soon have Californians looking for new ways to cut-back.

Governor Jerry Brown announced mandatory regulations Wednesday, after the annual snowpack measurement recorded the state’s lowest snowfall in 60 years. The Golden State must now reduce use by 25 percent.  With compulsory cuts on the table, developers and homeowners are are looking for new ways to save. Enter greywater.

Greywater recycling systems take rinse water from household appliances and pumps it through a filter. Filtered water can then be used to water gardens, wash cars or even fill toilets. It’s a simple system, but the state of California has been reluctant to embrace the technology. Madelyn Glickfield is director of the UCLA water resources group.

“There are state regulations, and then they ask every local jurisdiction to set out their own regulations, which is why more people don’t do it, because it’s confusing,“ Glickfield told Take Two. “50 percent of our water is now used for landscaping. That’s water that we all pay for to treat to drinking standards. We’re literally watering our plants with water we could drink.”

One of the biggest obstacles to the expansion of greywater is public opinion. Glickfield says the idea of pumping dishwater into the yard is unappealing to homeowners, but she maintains that filtered water is safe for use. “What you’re supposed to do is take the water from those systems, put them in a covered hose and send them through a drip to your trees and to other places,” she said. “Nobody’s ever exposed to that water.”

Press the play button above to hear Glickfield's thoughts on how greywater could help California make it through the drought.



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