Water recycling hot topic in Nov.

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

GRAYWATER CONFERENCE: Hosted by Tuolumne County Environmental Health, Nov. 15 and 16, Evergreen Lodge outside of Groveland, $110 before Nov. 1, $135 after, cost includes two lunches and morning snacks. Call 533-5633 or visit tuolumnecounty.ca.gov for more information or registration forms.

A large, multi-day conference hosted by Tuolumne County Environmental Health officials will dive deep into an expanding field in water conservation.

Experts from around the state will discuss graywater systems during a two-day event Nov. 15 and 16. The conference will feature dozens of speakers, classes and instructional sessions on a practice that is becoming more prevalent around the state - how to use recycled water systems.

"We're just trying to get more and more people trained," said Robert Kostlivy, director of environmental health with the county. "It really seems like California is behind the times (in the field). But, slowly, over the last three years, we've made a lot of big strides."

Graywater refers to untreated household water that has not been in contact with sewage that is recycled for irrigation or other uses. Some of the most common sources include showers, baths, sinks and laundry machines.

Water from a dishwasher or kitchen sink is usually not included, since it often holds organic matter that promotes bacterial growth.

Until 2010, this water was considered by state regulators to be the same as other raw sewage, and thus required to be treated in septic or sewage systems. But changes in the state plumbing code has allowed residential and other water users to use recycled graywater in some instances.

Graywater systems are regulated, and in some cases require permits. But Kostlivy said they can become important ways for communities to conserve water as shortages and state regulations continue to affect water use.

"We are trying to be a little more proactive than reactive here," he said.

The conference will span both days, touching on graywater issues, examples of successful systems, tips on installation and studies from the field. Organizers are gearing much of the conference toward contractors and homeowners interested in learning how to install and use graywater systems.

"It's quite overwhelming, the knowledge that's going to be there," he said.

Contact Chris Caskey at ccaskey@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4527.

The Union Democrat
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