Councilmembers’ Motion Seeks to Remove Bureaucratic Hurdles to Water Conservation

LOS ANGELES – Launching an effort to remove bureaucratic hurdles between homeowners and increased water recycling, Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Paul Krekorian today proposed eliminating fees for home water recycling systems in Los Angeles.

“Graywater systems” use untreated wastewater from showers, laundry machines, and bathtubs (but not toilets) to irrigate landscaping and have been heiled by environmentalists as one “solution to California’s water shortage.” With the state in the midst of a historic drought and water suppliers cutting water deliveries to cities by 15%, the Councilmembers’ proposal would help residents conserve water, which will have tremendous environmental and economic benefits for the city.

“We are facing an unprecedented and unrelenting drought and we should be doing everything possible to help people conserve water,” Bonin said. “Our motion will cut through the red tape – making it cheaper and easier for people to install simple water recycling systems in their homes, to not only help people conserve water, but to show them that government is on your side – not on your back.”

There are a variety of types of graywater systems, ranging from “Clothes Washer” systems (which do not require permits from the city), to “Simple” systems (which discharge up to 250 gallons per day and require permits), to “Complex” systems (which discharge more than 250-gallons per day) and “Treatment” systems (which are not currently allowed in Los Angeles). Yesterday, Krekorian introduced a motion asking for the City to revise Green Building Codes to require graywater systems and for the types of systems allowed by the City to be expanded to include “Treatment” systems.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as we can for Los Angeles homeowners who want to conserve water and cut their utility bills to install graywater systems,” said Krekorian. “Eliminating the permit fee will encourage more home water recycling and move us toward our state and city water reduction goals.”

Permits for simple graywater systems are issued by the Department of Building and Safety, though further approval may be needed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The average cost of a permit is $507, which includes up to two inspections and plancheck. Though the Department of Water and Power offers information and helpful guides about graywater systems at www.ladwp.com, last year, there were only 13 permits for graywater systems approved in Los Angeles.

“The Department of Water and Power does a great job offering people information on their website about the benefits of graywater systems and how they can get the permits they need, but if only a baker’s dozen of systems were installed last year, we need to be doing more,” Bonin said. “By getting rid of permitting fees for simple systems, we can help do what our Governor, Mayor and my colleagues on Council and I have been pleading with residents to do – save water during the drought.”

The Councilmembers’ motion will be heard in the Energy and Environment Committee in the coming weeks.

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Motion – Eliminating Graywater Permit Fees