Do Boulder Real Estate Laws Allow Using Gray Water?

If you own Boulder real estate and it’s actually in the city limits, you might be in luck if you want to implement the new WL-55 gray water system. If your home is somewhere else in Boulder county, you may be out of luck for now – the county building code regulations currently prohibit the use of gray water systems.

As the costs for services related to using and maintaining a home goes up, and consumer consciousness on preserving natural resources increases as well, looking more carefully at how much water we use is more important that ever. A couple of local Boulder entrepreneurs may have the answer for some of us. Their company, Water Legacy, offers an innovative system for handling gray water and reusing it in your home.

Now, before you start thinking that this is a system for creating drinking water from your sewer, you should know that systems like these don’t reuse any water from toilets or your sink’s garbage disposal. Water from sources like your shower and bathroom sink is retained in the home, and processed through a filtration and purification system. The processed water is then routed back to your toilets for flushing use.

While that’s it in a nutshell, there are more specifics about how gray water systems work, what the local regulations are that restrict what you can or can’t do with gray water, and how best to implement a gray water system.

I’ve often lamented that we waste a lot of water in our home and wished that we had a process for recovering the water used for showers, baths, hand washing and even clothes washing.

After taking a trip in a motorhome many years ago, and becoming more familiar with the notion of gray water versus black water as we landed most days in camping locations to dump our tanks, it occurred to me that there was something backwards about the way we handle water in our homes.

While pondering the ways I might be able to retrofit my house to capture the partially used water for secondary uses, it seemed to me one great place to re-use the gray water would be landscape irrigation. Unfortunately gray water irrigation isn’t allowed in Colorado.

You may also be surprised to know that collecting rainwater runoff isn’t allowed either. I’ve known many people who collect rainwater from their home’s downspouts for use later as garden and lawn irrigation. While this is environmentally smart in my mind, it’s not allowed because of the complicated, and sometimes controversial, water ownership rules in Colorado.

If a gray water recovery and reuse system seems like something that might work for you, keep in mind that while existing homes can be retrofitted with a new system, it’s much easier to install systems in a new build or major remodel when access to wall interiors is easiest.

Overall, to me this is another great way to be smart about how efficiently we use, or reuse, the resources necessary to run our homes especially because the common outhouse has been outlawed in Boulder county for many years now and we’re stuck with using modern water-based toilets.

With the cost of a gray water system running around $3,000, the choice between environmental considerations and cost may take on added weight. However, in a water scarce state like Colorado, if we don’t continue to find new ways to conserve or eliminate water use, we may find ourselves in a bind next time we get thirsty.


One Response to “Do Boulder Real Estate Laws Allow Using Gray Water?”

  1. jerry on January 21st, 2009 3:45 pm

    I am fascinated with the use of grey water systems. I believe if proposed in parker colorado it would gain a deluge of supporters. Recently, Parker has been issued a probable raise of 20 to 30% on water usage. The decline in utility would counter the rise in cost. I am sure the possibility of saving the politician’s post would force them to consider a grant of some amount to counter the raise which will come.

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