GRAY WATER OK IN SAN MARCOS
Under proposal, residents would be allowed to use shower, washing machine drainage on yards
SAN MARCOS — In order to go green, the City of San Marcos could be getting a little gray.
The San Marcos City Council tonight will review a proposed ordinance that would allow “gray water” — wastewater from showers, bathtubs, sinks and washing machines — to be used for landscaping and certain other purposes.
If the council approves the ordinance, San Marcos will join Austin as one of the first Central Texas cities to have an ordinance aimed at re-using not-so-dirty water for a variety of applications.
Gray water refers to any kind of water that has been used in the home except from toilets — water that contains human or animal waste is often called “black water.” Although it is not potable, gray water is an increasingly popular conservation technique.
Since 2004, state law has allowed residents to use gray water to water around a home’s foundation to prevent cracks, as well as for composting, gardening and irrigation. Jon Clack, the city’s assistant director of water and wastewater utilities, said the proposed ordinance will
clarify its applications within city limits.
This includes limiting gray water use to less than 400 gallons a day for residential purposes, Clack said. “We just wanted to set the minimum standards for San Marcos,” he said.
In addition, the proposed ordinance stipulates that gray water must be applied in a way that prevents pooling and runoff onto other properties. Clack said the ordinance primarily targets new home construction.
“We’re encouraging builders to install new gray water plumbing,” Clack said. But there are no incentives currently planned for builders or residents, he said.
For commercial and industrial applications, gray water can only be used for landscape maintenance, dust control and toilet flushing.
Council Member John Thomaides said that the ordinance is one that residents have pushed for in the past.
“Citizens have communicated to me through the years that they want to capture laundry water, mostly for gardening,” Thomaides said. “If homeowners want to use it to save aquifer water, it’s a good thing. (The ordinance) gives us the ability to tell people how to use it.”