Denver City Council Passes Ordinance to Allow Graywater Use
Denver City Council passed an ordinance that makes Denver the first city in the state to allow the use of gray water for residential, commercial and industrial purposes.
Graywater is defined as the portion of wastewater that is collected from fixtures within residential, commercial, industrial buildings, or institutional facilities for the purpose of being put to beneficial use, and can be collected from bathroom and laundry room sinks, bathtubs, showers, and washing machines. Graywater can be used to flush toilets or urinals, or for subsurface irrigation of non-agricultural crops.
In 2013, the Colorado State Legislature authorized the use of graywater in Colorado, providing local health departments with the ability to monitor and regulate the use and treatment. In 2015, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission adopted 5 CCR § 1002-86 (“Regulation 86”), which permits local governments to adopt an ordinance authorizing the use of graywater.
Denver’s ordinance was developed by Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, in coordination with Community Planning and Development and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. This also marks the completion of one of the commitments announced by the City at last December’s Sustainable Denver Summit.
“Water is a precious resource in Colorado and as Denver’s population grows, water conservation will be of continued importance. We’re excited to be the first to pass a measure that gives our residents and businesses the ability to save resources and money at the same time,” says Mayor Michael B. Hancock.
A graywater program will support the City’s 2020 Community Sustainability Goal for Water Quantity of reducing per capita use of potable water in Denver by 22 percent by providing a new option to conserve water.
Large facilities that have high uses of water from showers and laundry and high water demand for toilet flushing such as hotels, multi-family residential, and dormitories, could realize more significant cost savings.
It is anticipated that the greatest demand for graywater will come from new hotels, multi-family residential facilities, dormitories, and buildings pursuing a green building certification.
The Board of Environmental Health is expected to approve rules and regulations in late summer describing how the program will be implemented. Participation in the program will be completely voluntary.
Denver’s Department of Environmental Health (DEH) is dedicated to advancing Denver’s environmental and public health goals. The divisions of DEH are: Animal Protection, Community Health, Environmental Quality, Office of the Medical Examiner, and Public Health Inspections.
For more information about Environmental Health visitwww.denvergov.org/DEH.