April 16, 2013 by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post
If House Bill 1044 were a book, it might be called “Fifty Shades of Graywater,” a suggestion that made Sen. Gail Schwartz laugh out loud.
“If only the bill were that much fun,” she said. “But it’s a very important bill when it comes to water conservation and water efficiencies.”
Graywater is wastewater in a building that comes from showers, hand-washing sinks and washing machines. It does not come from toilets, urinals or kitchen sinks.
Colorado is the only western state that doesn’t allow treated graywater to be used for flushing toilets, landscaping and such, but a proposal scheduled to be heard Wednesday in a Senate committee would change that.
House Bill 1044, by Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, legalizes the use of graywater, calls for the development of regulations to protect the public health and gives cities and counties the discretion to offer graywater permits to single- or multi-family dwellings.
Bill supporters say a household with four people could save 58,000 gallons a year if it had a graywater filtration system installed.
A similar bill died last year in its first House committee amid concerns it would harm downstream water rights. Fischer said he reworked the bill, which was then endorsed by Colorado Water Congress .
The House unanimously passed the measure, which will be heard Wednesday by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, who sits on the committee, said he’s excited to hear the bill.
“As long as we can protect the downstream users’ historical rights, there is nothing wrong with this idea,” he said. “A lot of money and energy goes into cleaning up water to bring it to drinking water standards, merely to put it on lawns and flush toilets, and we don’t need to do that.”
Schwartz also addressed that point, saying a number of Colorado’s wastewater treatment facilities are aging and need to be updated. She said the use of graywater would mean less input into those plants.
Fischer said he got the idea for carrying the bill from two Colorado State University professors who have been working on graywater issues. They have a graywater disinfectant vat set up in one of the residence halls and have been testing the system.