On October 8, 2011, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill No. 849, which amends California Water Code § 14877.3 related to local agency standards for graywater systems. Graywater systems allow reuse of wastewater within residences, primarily through the reuse of bathing and laundry water to flush toilets or irrigate landscapes. The current statute allows a city, county or other local agency to adopt standards for graywater systems that are more restrictive than state standards. The new amendments, which will go into effect on January 1, 2012, require a local agency to find after a public hearing that “local climatic, geological, topographical, or public health conditions … necessitate building standards that are more restrictive” and to limit the restrictions to the area where such conditions exist. AB 849 states the intent of the Legislature to encourage prudent water conservation efforts and use of graywater systems through consistency and uniformity of standards.

While this law is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it’s a very, very modest step. Couldn’t we ask a little more from the Legislature to promote efficient water use?

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