(originally posted February 15, 2009 just before the State of California adopted a gray-water code; edited and reposted March 2, 2014 in the midst of one of California's worst droughts)
GREYWATER ACTION (Editor's Note: Riptide follows American spelling—gray; the British spell it grey.)
We have an opportunity to save rivers, fisheries, money, and perhaps the planet, keeping it habitable for future generations. My plumbing customers may have heard this rant already and may want to skip ahead to the forwarded message below. For the rest of you, my rant goes like this:
Advances in plumbing codes have been at least as effective as advances in medicine in promoting human health and longevity—possibly even more so. One aspect of the codes instrumental in curtailing or eradicating many waterborne and airborne diseases is the requirement that water be used only once before being sent to sewage treatment. The problem with this blanket approach is that it needlessly wastes precious potable water.
We have remained blissfully ignorant of the costs of our wastefulness to the environment for a long time, but that is changing rapidly. Did you know that the United States is the last Pacific Rim nation to use potable water to flush toilets?
The consequences of our wastefulness are immense and growing. It is not surprising that arid southwestern states such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have pioneered gray-water legislation. These states have gray-water plumbing codes aimed at safely reusing some of the water from laundries, bathtubs, showers, and washbasins without reintroducing any of the health hazards that the current Uniform Plumbing Code and National Plumbing Codes control. Many progressive environmentalists already use gray water, at odds with applicable state and local codes.
(As a plumbing contractor, I can now design systems easily convertible to gray water now that California has adopted a gray-water code. As a friend, I often offer advice or recommend books on gray water to my customers.)
GREYWATER ACTION is an excellent information source. It is essential to do gray-water systems correctly to avoid reintroducing waterborne and airborne diseases. It is very important that all communities, even if not now in water shortage, drought, or water rationing, adopt some form of gray-water code, as the State of California already has done.
(Dan B. Underhill, California Plumbing License Number 552716, is a member but not a spokesman for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials [IAPMO], cheerleader for Greywater Action. Dan is a founding member and longtime supporter of Pacifica Riptide.)
Pacifica civic leaders (government, nonprofit, educational institution, residential, faith community, family group) ask all Pacificans to help save water.
The governor has declared a drought emergency, and our water district has called for voluntary 20 percent reduction in water use. This means taking shorter showers, using less water in the home and garden, using commercial car washes instead of washing the car at home, etc. The water district and the Internet have lots of good ideas for saving water.
This is a genuine crisis, and we all need to do our part to help. I am cutting way back on my water use, and writing about this emergency in my Pacifica Tribune column and here on my Pacifica Riptide blog. Please do whatever you can to spread the word to others. We need to do this thing now! Every day counts. And don’t forget to “pray for rain,” even if you’re not religious. Thanks.
John Maybury, Editor & Publisher, Pacifica Riptide
California is drying up (see Folsom Lake, above) and Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. Everyone needs to start rationing water immediately. Our local water district asks everyone to start cutting back on water use by 20 percent: shorter showers, less water use in home and garden, use commercial car washes instead of the garden hose, etc.
"Have you noticed UPS-uniformed cyclists towing small trailers full of parcels in your neighborhood recently? I did a little research and discovered that they are refilling their trailers at pods strategically placed around town. The pods are refilled regularly by one of the familiar big brown trucks that used to trundle up and down the street. I think that it is rather charming to see a cyclist pedaling up the street with a trailer full of parcels, later to be seen coasting back down the hill with an empty trailer. Not only is it much more environmentally friendly, it is a whole lot quieter."
After two years of hard work, we passed the first mattress recycling bill on the West Coast! With your support, we increased beverage container recycling rates and established producer responsibility programs for paint, carpet, e-waste, and mattresses.
But we know that you’re worried about plastic litter and waste you see everywhere. So we ask for your help. Plastic grocery bags continue to plague our ocean economy, threaten wildlife, and cost millions in taxpayer dollars.
Recent data reveal that plastic grocery bags are the fourth-most commonly found items at coastal cleanups. More than 13 billion bags were produced in California last year, and most ended up as litter or in landfills.
Plastic marine pollution is our fastest-growing environmental problem. Sea turtles eat twice as much plastic today as they did 25 years ago. Studies show that both ocean and freshwater species ingest plastic particles, mistaking them for food. Whales wash up on the beach with stomachs full of plastic debris, including plastic grocery bags.
In May, we fell just three votes short of passing a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. And with your help, we’ll keep fighting against the plastic bag industry campaign of misinformation and intimidation until we get those votes. With your support, this is the year we can eliminate the plastic grocery bag in California!
But plastic grocery bag manufacturers will continue to place profits above the interests of taxpayers and the lives of animals in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. They won’t stop spending millions on flashy advertising campaigns and frivolous, time-consuming lawsuits against cities that are trying to do the right thing by passing local bag ordinances.
We’re almost there, but we can’t do it alone. Your contribution is so important right now, because it provides us with the resources to fight, at a grassroots level, against the plastics industry’s tactics.We’re only three votes away, but it’s not going to be easy to secure those votes. Your generous gift of $50, $100, $500, or $1,000 will help us build our 2014 campaign against disposable plastic grocery bags.
Here's an eco-wrap idea. I was inspired by the amazing art form of Korean Wrapping Cloths. Buy holiday-themed yardage to wrap presents and reuse every year. Some of this fabric is way more beautiful than paper anyway. Too late for this year? Pop down to a Jo-Ann store after Christmas and buy it at half-price. You'll be ready for next year. Each year I get another assortment. Now I'm going to implement birthday cloth wraps. Encourage your giftee to pass on the wrap. Happy holidays.