Collection by Miyoko Ohtake

Preview: Greywater Corps


Dwell on Design is quickly approaching and here at the office we're finalizing the finishing touches and getting ready for our road trip down to Los Angeles (which will surely include the requisite lunch stop at In-N-Out along the 5). In the meantime, we bring you a preview of our water conservation panels taking place on the Sustainability Stage on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27.

For these conversations, Shane Judd of Kohler, Leigh Jerrard of the California Greywater Corps, and Jeremy Levine of Jeremy Levine Design will join Dwell associate editor and panel moderator Miyoko Ohtake to discuss the latest trends in water efficiency and simple steps you can take to go green (and grey). We spoke with Jerrard about Greywater Corps in anticipation of the event. Join us in Los Angeles June 25-27 for more!

What led you to launching Greywater Corps?I bought a house and I have a small child so we were taking a lot of baths. We had planted some fruit trees and it seemed like I was irrigating my trees with beautiful, clear tap water that had traveled hundreds of miles to get there and then I was just pulling the plug in the bathtub and letting all that water go down the drain.So what did you do?We started bucketing and siphoning the water and reusing it and then I installed a greywater system in my house. It was right around then that the law in California changed to make it legal to do do greywater systems and in many cases to do them without a permit. It seemed like a good time to launch this business.What does Greywater Corps offer in services?We do a lot of instillations in houses as well as teaching and workshops. We might install a system in someone's house to show others how to do it or we recently brought a washing machine to a university and hooked up all the plumbing so the students could see how it works. People can learn to install a greywater system quite easily; a reasonably handy person can do it. What types of systems to you tend to install for people?I do minimal systems because you can't store greywater because it will grow bacteria and I avoid filters because they tend to clog and systems get backed up. Our goal is to have people using a greywater system for many years and are people going to be willing to change a filter once a month for ten years? Probably not. So instead of filters, which you need for indoor use, we run the water our to the landscape.Is that a good reuse of the water?In Los Angeles, the average water consumption is used half for landscaping and half for in the house. And of the half used in the house, up to 80 percent becomes greywater. Rerouting that water to the landscape can save an average American household in L.A. up to 40,000 gallons a year, or about $400 a year.What can someone hoping to tap into greywater do to get started?The easiest thing for people to do is get a buck in the shower and let it collect water while it's getting hot. That's not even greywater, that's pure water at that point. There's also a book I'd recommend by Art Ludwig, the grandfather of the greywater movement in California, called Create An Oasis with Greywater. Or visit the Greywater Action site or my website. And come to Dwell on Design.

A branch drain system instillation in progress.