A gray water system can conserve water in your home.

With California embroiled in a severe drought, fresh water supplies are dwindling and the costs are rising. Many Los Angeles residents are searching for ways to conserve their water resources by utilizing every precious drop.

Recently, the Los Angeles city council called for new city standards allowing residents to recycle gray water, the barely used water from sinks, bathtubs, showers, washing machines and other appliances, to irrigate their landscaping. If you’re interested in implementing water conservation in your own home, read on to learn more about the basics of a gray water system and its related benefits.

What Is a Gray Water System?

Gray water systems recycle water used in your washing machine, shower, tub and bathroom sinks for use in outdoor irrigation. Instead of allowing the water to enter the main sewer system, it’s diverted to outdoor landscaping where plants consume the nutrients and organisms in the ground break down any oils and organic material.

How They Work

A simple system relies on gravity to convey the water to landscaped areas. Applicable drains in sinks, washers and showers are diverted to landscaped areas to irrigate plants, trees and shrubs. More advanced systems might incorporate a pump or pumping system and a holding tank to supply water to irrigation systems, such as sprinklers and soaker lines.

How They Support the Environment

These systems provide many benefits to the environment. Most importantly, they conserve freshwater that would be otherwise used for lawn irrigation. In addition, recycled water systems also reduce the demand on freshwater resources, the costs required for freshwater treatment and its distribution.

Return on Investment

Installing a gray water system in your home would provide a powerful marketing tool should you decide to sell in the future. Many homebuyers are focused on the nation’s green movement toward renewable energy, energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprints. The installation of this water system carries the potential to reduce monthly water bills, make your home more energy efficient and may even increase the property value.

Is Your Home Suitable for the System?

Pier and beam constructed homes are the best candidates for installation of a gray water system, because they provide easy access to the gray water sources in the plumbing system located in the crawl space beneath your home.

The plumbing systems in homes built on concrete slabs, floating slabs or slabs on grade are more difficult to access, meaning the costs of installation would be greater than the benefits of the system. However, it still might be possible to access drains from laundry rooms or upstairs bathrooms in these homes. Your plumbing contractor can determine the feasibility and benefits of a gray water system in your home.

Water Conservation Tips

In addition to recycled water systems, there are other ways to conserve water in your household:

  • Limit bathing times to five minutes or less.
  • Run washing machines and dishwashers with only full loads.
  • Install low-flow toilets and faucets, which use a fraction of the water compared to dated models.
  • Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.

Most importantly, be smart and use your water resources wisely. Visit Owners.com to discover additional home advice and a wealth of valuable real estate information, services and listings.