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LADOC Committee Meeting January 28, 2020




Board of Directors Regular Meeting January 16, 2020, at 5:30 pm



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Greywater System Credit Information



Take advantage of recent California Plumbing Code changes that now make it legal to capture and reuse greywater from showers/bathtubs, bathroom sinks, and clothes washing machines to irrigate your outdoor landscape.

Receive a Credit of $150 per connection, when you install a greywater system to irrigate your landscape. The new regulations (and the credit) apply to single family unit residential buildings only.

Greywater systems must meet all applicable state and local requirements to prevent potential health threats and environmental contamination. Please refer to the information below (see Greywater System Regulatory Requirements) regarding state and local greywater system requirements.


Greywater includes wastewater from showers/baths, bathroom sinks, and clothes washing machines only. Greywater may contain fats, oils, grease, hair, lint, soaps, and household cleaners. However, it can be safely used to irrigate most landscapes (except root crops or edible crops that touch the soil) as long as regulatory requirements and guidelines are followed.

Note:  Greywater does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, or toilets, or from clothes washing machines when used to wash diapers or other infectious garments. Wastewater from these sources is referred to as “blackwater” and cannot be used due to the risk of contamination by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.


You can save water and money during the irrigation season when you use greywater to irrigate instead of or in addition to potable (i.e. drinking) water. A benefit of using greywater is that it is generated year-round and is thus readily available when needed during the irrigation season. Although the amount of water you can save is dependent upon the specific size and design of your landscape, landscape water typically accounts for about 25% of total residential water use during the dry season.

A typical Laundry to Landscape greywater system costs between $300 - $1,200 for parts and installation labor. Laundry to Landscape systems can be installed by a handy homeowner as long as the regulatory design requirements are met, but hiring a professional is generally recommended. Greywater systems that connect existing wastewater plumbing lines from showers/bath tubs and/or bathroom sinks to an outdoor landscape require a permit from the County and must be installed by a licensed plumber.


Credits (Click here for a greywater System Credit Application)

$150 for each qualified legal greywater connection. Maximum credit amount not to exceed $750.00 per account.   

The three types of connections that qualify for the credit include:

  • Clothes washing machine to landscape or “Laundry to Landscape” (No permit required)
  • Bathtub and/or shower to landscape (Permit Required)
  • Bathroom sink to landscape (Permit Required)

If you have any questions regarding greywater system credits, or need additional information, please contact the San Lorenzo Valley Water District at (831) 338-2153.


Complete credit eligibility requirements are listed on the greywater system credit application.  However, we still want you to be aware of the following:

  • Credit applies to parts and materials only. Sales tax and installation labor are not included.
  • Greywater systems must be installed and credit applications must be postmarked within 60 days of the purchase date of parts and materials.
  • A representative of SLVWD must be permitted to inspect the property to verify installation and proper construction prior to credit approval.
  • The applicant/customer is responsible for identifying and complying with all applicable state and local laws regarding system permitting, design, and operation (see information below for more details).
  • A copy of the building permit must be submitted with the credit application for all greywater systems connecting to any source other than a clothes washing machine.

All credits are granted on a first-come-first-served basis. Once the budget is expensed for the year the credit program will be suspended until the beginning of the next fiscal year (July1st).
In order to ensure you will be granted a credit please follow these steps:

  • Print an application here or contact the District’s Customer Service Department at 338-2153 to request an application for a Greywater Irrigation System Credit.
  • To ensure credit availability, complete the application and return it to the SLV Water District.

Drop off or mail your application and receipts to:
San Lorenzo Valley Water District
13060 Highway 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

  • Once the application is received, the District will contact you to set a post-installation inspection.
  • Install the Code Compliant Greywater System.
  • The District completes post-installation inspection.

  • You will receive the approved credit on your account on the next billing cycle.
Please be aware that all credits are issued on a first come first served basis. Once budget allowances are expensed the program will be suspended until the next fiscal year.

Is greywater appropriate for your property?
Four common factors which make some properties in the San Lorenzo Valley inappropriate for greywater irrigation are:

    1. Slope (>30%)
    2. High Groundwater (3 ft separation)
    3. Soil Type (Slow percolation <.8 gallons/hour)
    4. Proximity to San Lorenzo River or other streams and creeks (100 ft setback)
Parcels with a slope of 30% or greater are considered inappropriate for Greywater irrigation.
2. Groundwater
To avoid contaminating ground water, dig a 3 1/2 ft. hole in your yard, during the rainy season, to determine if you have high ground water. If ground water is seeping into the hole, the property is not appropriate for a greywater system. All systems are required to have a shut off valve, which is easily accessible and diverts greywater to the septic system. All greywater systems should be shut off during the winter rainy season, as plants will not need extra water and there is an increased chance of runoff and contamination of creeks, rivers and ground water.
3. Soil Type
Parcels with high clay content or sandstone may not work well for greywater systems. Irrigations fields (mulch basins) must be sized appropriately to allow all the discharged greywater to saturate into the ground without overflowing, surfacing, running off or pooling. CPC Table 1602.10 lists the various types of soil and how much greywater should be discharged per day based on percolation rate. Santa Cruz County GIS layer can help determine if your soil type and slope are appropriate.
4. Setback to Creeks and Rivers

Protect the water quality of our local creeks and rivers. Make sure your irrigation field at least 100 feet from any body of water such as creeks and rivers.

Permitting Requirements

Greywater systems must meet California Plumbing Code requirements (Title 24 Part 5, Chapter 16)

and local County of Santa Cruz permitting, design and operation requirements to prevent potential health threats and environmental contamination.


Local agencies do not require permits for clothes washing machine or Laundry to Landscape Greywater systems; however, all other greywater systems (i.e. shower/bathtub and bathroom sink) require a permit to install.

In addition to permitting requirements, if a pump is used to distribute the Greywater, or if a surge tank larger than 250 gallons is used, San Lorenzo Valley Water District requires a backflow prevention device. A backflow prevention device is used to protect the potable water supply by preventing the flow of non-potable water and materials into the potable supply line.

Design & Operation Requirements for Laundry to Landscape Systems

The most common and cost-effective residential greywater systems are Laundry to Landscape systems. While these systems do not require a permit, there are eleven basic design and operation requirements that must be met:

  1. The design must allow the user to direct greywater flow to the irrigation field and to the sewer or septic system utilizing a 3-way valve. The direction control of the greywater must be clearly labeled and readily accessible to the user.
  2. The installation, change, alteration or repair of the system may not include a potable water connection or a pump and may not affect other building, plumbing, electrical or mechanical components, including structural features, egress, fire-life safety, sanitation, potable water supply piping or accessibility.
  3. The greywater must be contained on site where it is generated.
  4. Greywater must be directed to and contained within an irrigation area.
  5. Ponding or runoff is prohibited and is considered a nuisance.
  6. Greywater must be released under at least two (2) inches of mulch, rock, or soil or a solid shield cover. Other methods that provide equivalent separation are also acceptable.
  7. Systems must be designed and operated to prevent greywater contact with humans and domestic pets.
  8. Water used to wash diapers or other infectious garments may not be used and must be diverted to the building sewer or septic system.
  9. Greywater may not contain hazardous chemicals derived from activities such as cleaning car parts, washing greasy or oil rags, or disposing of waste from home photo labs or similar hobbyist or home occupational activities.
  10. Exemption from construction permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any greywater system to be installed in a manner that violates other provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of the Enforcing Agency (i.e. the County of Santa Cruz).
  11. An operation and maintenance manual must be maintained by the owner for all greywater systems. Directions in the manual must indicate the manual is to remain with the building throughout the life of the system and indicate that upon change in ownership or occupancy, the new tenant must be notified that the structure contains a greywater system.

If you have questions about the regulatory requirements associated with greywater systems, please contact the Environmental Health Services Agency (831) 454-2022.

 Frequently Asked Questions about Greywater Systems
  • Should special soaps or detergents be used with greywater systems?

To keep your plants healthy, it is best to avoid soap with the following ingredients:  chlorine or bleach, peroxygen, sodium perborate, sodium trypochlorite, boron, borax, petroleum distillate, alkylbenzene, “whiteners”, “softeners” and “enzymatic” components. In general, liquid soaps are better than power soaps. For more information check out:

  • Where can I find more information about Greywater?

There are many resources you can use to help determine if greywater will work for you, and if so, to help design an effective system. The best place to start is the 2013 California Plumbing Code (CPC) Title 24, Part 5, Chapter 16 which can be found at the following website:


The CPC provides important information regarding how to build a greywater system to avoiding surfacing or runoff, groundwater contamination and human or pet contact with wastewater.

You can also request a professional greywater consultation from a member of the Central Coast Greywater Alliance to help you design your system. Their contact information can be found at:


Other Resources and Links

For upcoming workshops, certified local greywater installers and installation information visit:


Greywater Action:


Rainwater Harvesting for Dry Lands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster: Save Our Water Logo smart garden logo

13060 Hwy 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006