Greywater & Rainwater Programs
Ecology Action co-founded the Central Coast Greywater Alliance, which provides training for public agencies, contractors and homeowners in best management practices for code-compliant greywater and rainwater systems.
Greywater—the wastewater from laundry machines, bathroom sinks, showers, and bathtubs—is a valuable source of water for reuse. A typical California household produces more than 10,000 gallons of greywater between May and October alone. Ecology Action worked with local building and environmental-health agencies to develop and establish consistent permitting processes and install the first residential greywater irrigation systems on the Central Coast. Ecology Action has developed practical resources to educate contractors and homeowners on code-compliant systems and continues to work with local public agencies to streamline greywater permits and develop effective rebate and direct-installation programs.
Rainwater is clean, free water that falls from the sky. One inch of rainwater that falls on a 1,000 square foot roof can yield more than 600 gallons of water. Legal for many years for outdoor irrigation reuse, the solution has limited application due to the high cost and space needs for storage into the dry months. The game changer came through state code clarifications in 2016 that confirmed the legality of using rainwater year-round indoors for dishwashing, laundry, and toilet flushing. Despite the code passage, there were still concerns about the safety of water quality for indoor use, so Ecology Action implemented two pilot projects with rigorous water-quality testing to confirm the safety of various technologies and system approaches. From this body of work, we have developed many practical resources for educating contractors and homeowners on both active and passive rainwater-harvesting systems, including calculating sizing and costs for this innovative solution that has promise for an increasingly drought-intensive western state’s future.
These kinds of distributed solutions provide the double benefit of protecting and restoring critical water resources while reducing the carbon emissions associated with the energy use needed to source, pump, move, and treat water in centralized utility systems.
Ecology Action’s goal is to help homeowners and businesses in our community use water more efficiently so that we can collectively maintain a sustainable water supply for current and future generations and also reduce carbon emissions.
- Ecology Action permitted and installed the first greywater irrigation systems and indoor, non-potable rainwater-reuse systems on the Central , thereby enabling contractors to mainstream water-reuse systems for commercial and residential sites.
- We have installed more than 100 laundry-to-landscape greywater systems through hands-on public workshops and direct-installation programs. This success was enabled by our full life-cycle involvement through problem identification, policy advocacy, regulatory solution development, pilot demonstration projects, direct installation, and catalyzing grassroots campaigns.
- Ecology Action has assisted water utilities in developing rebates and incentives to help pay for greywater installation .
Water Conservation Coalition
Ecology Action designs and executes multi-district, or regional, campaigns to inspire community members to make water conservation a way of life, which will relieve the water demand on our rivers and wells long after the current drought.
Ecology Action partners with local water districts to design community-based social-marketing campaigns that empower people to reduce their water use and make water conservation a way of life. During the drought of 2014, we engaged businessowners and residents to pledge a savings of 17 million gallons of water per year. We launched the Monterey Bay Green Gardener Certification Program and distributed the Spanish-bilingual curriculum to water utilities across the State of California. We recognize and reinforce ecological-landscaping and green-infrastructure practices that transform the built environment. Through these powerful programs, we are helping the Monterey Bay Area be a leader in water conservation.
- Ecology Action has trained and certified more than 550 landscape maintenance workers through the Green Gardener Certification Program and enabled similar results statewide by supporting Green Gardener program development throughout California.
- We have installed and/or certified more than 100 Monterey Bay Friendly Landscapes in Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, and San Benito Counties.
- In order to publish data on the most cost-effective treatment methods for meeting water-quality standards, Ecology Action worked with local environmental-health departments to perform water-quality testing on the systems we permit.
- We have converted more than 2 acres of thirsty, nonfunctional turf grass to climate-appropriate landscaping.
Visit watersavingtips.org to learn more about a key example of our service capacity via the Santa Cruz County Water Conservation Coalition’s work.