Clever Gardening Technique
Use Care When Recycling Wastewater
According to an article in USA Today, this is the driest year on record for North Carolina and Tennessee. Based on a study of tree rings, researchers have determined that this is the third-driest year in Tennessee in at least 350 years. You'd think any and all water-conservation efforts would be applauded. Not so. According to the Charlotte Observer, "State law prohibits rerouting anything headed for the drain to the dry outdoors, even if it's something as simple as leftover water from half-empty glasses at the dinner table." This "gray water" is considered wastewater, as defined by the state plumbing code, and includes water leftover from baths and washing dishes. It may not go anywhere except down the drain. Collect the water and use it to water plants and you're breaking the law.
"Not included under the law is water collected in the shower while waiting for it to cool or get warm, as long as it hasn't touched you. It's also legal to collect and use water from the kitchen sink as long as it has not come into contact with food and other waste." The law likely dates back to times when infectious diseases were spread through untreated sewage. Although it's unlikely you'll be arrested for watering plants with your kids' leftover bath water, it does make us rethink the value of water and how we can best conserve this precious resource.
The Southeast is in the midst of a historic drought, and homeowners can play a big role in water conservation. Imagine how much water would be saved if each citizen saved just 5 or 10 gallons per day. Georgia's Drought Response Unified Command Web site provides information on conserving water, as well as links to news reports and drought data.
Many municipalities have begun mandatory water conservation efforts, such as prohibiting lawn watering and car washing. Restrictions may change based on current drought conditions, so check your city's Web sites for up-to-date information.