This is hopefully the first installment of a rags to riches story: how discarded water from your laundry (that’s the rags part) can turn into edible riches.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is launching a new Laundry to Landscape pilot program, the object of which is to install greywater systems that utilize laundry wastewater for irrigating landscaping, thus reducing water and sewer use. The program is aimed at single and duplex home owners, and includes a short training class and subsidised sale of the necessary piping equipment.
For those not familiar with Greywater systems, they involve the use of wastewater from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs and laundries to irrigate landscaping (and in some cases for toilet flushing). Wastewater from toilets, utility sinks and kitchen sinks are not included, as they contain much more bacterial and chemical components and need more sophisticated treatment. Bathroom sinks, laundries, showers and tubs, given the use of appropriate cleansers, are considered safe for use in landscaping, as long as some basic precautions are taken with how the water is distributed. The state has even legalized ‘simple’ systems, involving water from a laundry, without needing a permit. More complex systems are also possible, however. Check out the Greywater Alliance or Greywater Action for general information.
The program is being run by the Urban Farmer Store of San Francisco, and they are looking for 150 volunteers for the pilot. The benefits include a $95.00 subsidy on parts and training by experts. This will cover most of the costs for many people.
We intend to irrigate edible plants -- a small fruit orchard and blueberry bushes – with our system. It may take a few years for things to mature (growing edible plants in San Francisco’s climate is always a challenge!) but we have hopes for a cornucopia.