Texas Water Day: Rainwater and graywater harvesting
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I was able to spend about an hour at Texas Water Day today, a day-long event at the Capitol o' Texas focused on water conservation. I missed all the speechifying but was able to stop in and chat with the booth people and complain about the size of the urinals at the capitol to random attendees (we're talking ginormous, at least the ones in the annex...). Sorry, no photos. Guys get freaked out when you're taking photos in the bathroom...
I was also able to chat with several folks about other important matters. The City of Austin conservation folks were there, and we yimmered and yammered about pressurized rainwater harvesting and graywater.
On the rainwater harvesting side, we discussed the requirements for reverse pressure zones (RPZs), licensed plumbers, and permits (things I'm not convinced are necessary for a system not even remotely connected to the city's system). The boothpeople told me that the city is considering exempting certain pressurized systems (say below 30 psi, quite a bit below the city's pressure) from the RPZ/licensed plumber/permit requirements. That would be a nice improvement. They're still scared of a fully pressurized system being accidentally or purposely connected to the city water and getting (insert ominous voice here) "water of unknown quality" in their system (of course someone purposely doing this would not be getting a permit to do so...). But I can see why they have concerns. Two fully-pressured systems on site increase the odds of someone screwing up, especially subsequent homeowners (and plumbers) that don't fully appreciate or understand the system.
We also talked about on-site graywater use. The boothers said that the city is in the process (any day now!) of revising those rules under a new "Laundry to Lawn" program where you can just run your waste laundry water out into your yard without the subsurface storage and drainfield requirements. Yippee!!! Too late for us (we didn't build in separate plumbing for graywater), but for subsequent graywater adopters, this is good news.
More about graywater:
News article about graywater and rules use in Austin.
City council resolution on graywater.
Here's a proposal from the City's Graywater External Stakeholders Committee.
Some people have said "TO HELL WITH THE RULES!!!".
They are the few, the proud, the Greywater Guerrillas.
I also ran into a pal I used to work with that is a turf expert, a subject she studied at Texas A and M. There's a lot of people I know that went to college and did nothing but grass, but this young lady truly went to college and studied nothing but grass! After talking about the house and landscaping (and getting reminded that she was a turf expert), she recommended Thunder Turf by Native American Seed. The bride and I have talked about using Habiturf, but it's expensive as hell. My turf-grrl friend said Thunder Turf was the way to go. She even texted me later: "Thunder Turf = Good Stuff".
Several weeks ago I was yapping at an event in Junction, Texas, and went to an after-event wine swig that turned out to be hosted by the proprietors of, you guessed it, Native American Seed! These folks live water conservation and even had their Texas Raincatcher Award, an award passed out by the Texas Water Development Board, proudly mounted on the wall in the living room. We drank wine and talked about grass, rainwater harvesting, and rain gardens. That, my friends, is a good evening (even without the wine).
Anyway, the universe seems to be lining up: THUNDER!!! TURF!!!
The cool bit of swag I picked up at Texas Water Day was a shower timer from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:
I've actually been wondering how long we (ahem...) I spend in the shower. Now I can do some timing! That old-skool grains-of-sand timer above allows five minutes for rub-a-dubbing.
Let the experiments begin!