Graywater – Defined

Q: I have been reclaiming water I use to rinse vegetables in order to water my containers and other plants. Is this acceptable or does it fall under the same watering ban as outdoor sprinklers/watering?

A: This is my own opinion, but to me there is a difference between “graywater” and “caughtwater”.

In my view, graywater is water that has gone through a drain from a bathtub, laundry tub or clothes washer. Some plumbing codes define it thusly:

“Graywater is untreated waste water which has not come into contact with toilet waste. Graywater includes waste water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom wash basins, clothes washing machines, and laundry tubs, or an equivalent discharge. It does not include waste water from kitchen sinks, photo lab sinks, dishwashers, or laundry water from soiled diapers.”

I don’t believe there is a term for water you catch in a bucket in your shower or in other household spots, so I invented “caughtwater”.

Simply put, caughtwater is water you catch before it goes through the drain.

In your case, collecting the water you use to wash vegetables seems like a perfectly good way to avoid waste. Even with a bit of detergent in it, it won’t hurt plants.

Graywater use is governed by local plumbing codes. There are strict rules for collecting and distributing it. The current watering rules allow its use in this way:

391-3-30-.05 Exemptions
(1) This rule shall not apply to the following outdoor water uses:

(b) Re-use of gray water in compliance with applicable local ordinances.

In my opinion, caughtwater should not be governed by plumbing code or watering regulations but by the simple rule that it can only be applied to plants and can only be applied on your own property.

Strictly speaking, your use of kitchen water falls under the EPD rules….but I don’t think anyone will prosecute you if you use the water with common sense.

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