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Using Greywater is legal in Butte County.  In 2009 a drought motivated the state of California to update Chapter 16 of the California Plumbing Code to allow residential greywater use without a permit.  Greywater is water from your bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines and is a constant and consistent water supply for landscaping in our area (which can go 8 months without rain).   

Things to consider when installing your greywater system

  • Simple systems are best.
  • Don't store greywater.
  • Minimize contact with greywater. 
  • Water should go directly into the ground through a mulch basin, not pool up or run off.
  • Install a 3-way valve that will allow you to direct water to the garden or the sewer (which is essential if you are washing diapers or contaminated clothing).
  • The easiest way to use greywater is to pipe it directly outside to plants and trees.
  • Put nothing toxic down the drain. (no bleach, no dye, no bath salts, no boron), (yes biodegradable shampoo and salt free laundry soaps available in bulk at Chico Natural Foods).
  • Greywater can be used to water vegetables as long as it does not touch the edible part of the plant.  (example - no potatoes)
  • Try to match the amount of greywater you are producing to the needs of your plants.
  • Butte County Environmental Health prefers residents register their systems free of cost so they can better estimate how many systems exist. 
  • Click here for a list of supplies and materials you'll need for a washer system.

Helpful Links

Greywater Action out of Oakland has been promoting, hosting workshops, and installing greywater since before it was legal and has a wealth of information. 
Check out the San Francisco Greywater Installation Manual to help you design your own system.

Local Installers

Brian Ladwig-Cooper, owner of Gaia Creations Ecological Landscaping and Permaculture Solutions, is a certified permaculture designer. His contact info is (530) 321-9715 or (530) 828-6390.

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