Is it feasible to reuse greywater as irrigation water?


Is it feasible to reuse greywater as irrigation water?

Asked by Lisa Larson

We are building a home in the California desert and would like to make it as sustainable as possible. A friend suggested reusing greywater for the fruit trees we plan to plant on the property. What are the pros and cons to this?

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Randy Potter's picture

Using greywater from your home to irrigate landscaping is a great idea, especially in the desert regions where water tends to be even more scarce. Fruit trees are an ideal target for this "bonus" water as they can receive it underground in a mulch pit directly into their root structure. They also do well with the quantity of water from a typical shower or tub and have the capacity to filter small amounts of soaps and other organic material.

Also, it just so happens that California passed an emergency greywater regulation on January 27, 2010, which now allows for three levels of legal greywater systems to be installed in homes in California.

  • The easiest and simplest is the non-permitted level that allows you to take water from your clothes washer directly out to your fruit trees without having to go through the permit process.
  • If you want to then integrate your bathroom showers/tubs/sinks as well, you can do a simple system which has very simple requirements for permitting.

Title 24, Part 5, Chapter 16A, Part I of the California Plumbing Code is now in place as written by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD); the entire document can be found here, with all of the details of the new regulations and the three levels of systems.

You may want to have a copy of this document handy if you seek a permit with your local planning department, as many of them still do not know about this fairly new and underpublicized regulation.

You can also check our website,, for information on greywater and other water-saving technologies that you can implement for your home.

For more information:

Read Jesse Terzi's Ask A Pro Q&A, "We want to design a greywater system for bathrooms we're renovating. Can you help?" for practical tips on building and maintaining greywater systems.