DEQ considers Graywater use expansion

Proposed New State Rules Allow Expanded Use of “Graywater” and Water Reuse Systems in Oregon
— DEQ seeks comments on proposal through Friday, March 11

Dept. of Environmental Quality

As Oregon sees increasing demand on the state’s limited water resources, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is proposing new rules that will allow Oregonians to reuse graywater for certain limited functions such as garden irrigation and other forms of irrigation. Graywater is wastewater originating from showers, baths, bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks and laundries.

DEQ will conduct public hearings on the graywater proposal throughout Oregon in late February and early March, and is seeking public comments on the proposal through Friday, March 11. The 2009 Oregon Legislature legalized the use of graywater for beneficial purposes if permitted by DEQ and directed the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt rules for the permitting of graywater reuse and disposal systems.

While graywater is wastewater, it does not include toilet or garbage wastes. Although it may contain a complex mix of organic matter, suspended solids, bacteria and common household chemicals, when used judiciously and in a manner that takes public health into account, it can help preserve limited water supplies and emphasize the environmental ethics of reusing and recycling.

The proposed rules are available for public review on DEQ’s website at (scroll down to “Graywater reuse and disposal systems.”) As proposed, the rules would:

· Establish a public policy to encourage reuse of graywater for beneficial uses such as irrigation

· Establish requirements for all graywater reuse and disposal systems to protect public health and the environment

· Define three types of graywater based on level of treatment and identify reuse activities, treatment and monitoring requirements, setbacks, access and exposure controls, and site management practices necessary to protect public health and the environment

· Establish design and construction standards for graywater reuse and disposal systems

· Create a three-tier permitting system that defines permitting requirements based primarily on volume of graywater produced

People may submit comments on the proposed rules by mail, e-mail or fax before 5 p.m. Friday, March 11. Written comments may be mailed to Ron Doughten, Oregon DEQ, Water Quality Division 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390. Comments may be faxed to Ron Doughten at 503-229-6037 or e-mailed to [email protected] .

DEQ will hold four public hearings on the proposed rules. Each hearing will start with a one-hour overview followed by the opportunity to present oral and written comments. Hearings are scheduled at the following locations:

· Portland, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 5 p.m., DEQ Headquarters, 811 SW Sixth Ave., (SW Sixth & Yamhill), 10th floor, Room EQC-A.

· Bend, Thursday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m., DEQ Bend office, 475 NE Bellevue, Suite 110

· Eugene, Wednesday, March 2, 5 p.m., DEQ Eugene office, 165 E. Seventh Ave., Suite 100

· Ashland, Thursday, March 3, 5 p.m., Pioneer Hall, 73 Winburn Way.

DEQ will respond to all comments and may make changes to its rules proposal based on comments it receives. It will present a final proposal to the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission for adoption at the commission’s August 2011 meeting.


In developing these new rules, DEQ relied on recommendations of a Graywater Advisory Committee. The committee, which met on several occasions, consisted of people with varied technical backgrounds including resource conservation, water supply, wastewater treatment and design, green building, architecture, environmental advocacy, public health and water law. Committee members represented various Oregon regions, state government agencies, local governments, small businesses and individuals.

A document detailing anticipated questions and answers about this rulemaking and about graywater reuse and disposal systems is available on DEQ’s graywater rulemaking web page at: (scroll down to “Documents”).
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