2013 Colorado legislation: Governor Hickenlooper signs HB13-1044 (Authorize Graywater Use) #COleg

May 18, 2013

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, introduced House Bill 1044. Hickenlooper signed the bill at Colorado State University on Wednesday. The bill directs the Colorado Water Control Commission to create statewide standards for gray water systems. It defines graywater as water coming from bathroom and laundry room sinks, bathtubs, showers and laundry machines. “Graywater does not include the wastewater from toilets, urinals, kitchen sinks, dishwashers or non-laundry utility sinks,” the bill states…

The new law lets cities, towns and counties decide whether to approve graywater use in residential and commercial settings.

More HB13-1044 coverage here. More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


2013 Colorado legislation: Governor Hickenlooper signs HB13-1044 (Authorize Graywater Use) #COleg

May 16, 2013

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From email from Governor Hickenlooper’s office:

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed 12 bills into law today and yesterday…

HB13-1044, Authorize Graywater Use, Fischer/Schwartz, Concerning the authorization of the use of graywater.

More HB13-1044 coverage here. More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


2013 Colorado legislation: Graywater bill may make it to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk this session

May 3, 2013

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Dallas Heltzell):

Co-sponsored by Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, it now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Lawmakers there will consider a $110,000 appropriation to fund development of gray-water standards by the state Department of Public Health and Environment…

The bill directs the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to develop minimum statewide standards for gray-water systems and lets cities and towns decide whether to approve them.

Fischer talked with the Business Report about why the bill is needed — and why it failed last year.

Q: What first made you aware that this was an issue in Colorado? Why did you decide to introduce this bill now?

Answer: Dr. Larry Roesner at Colorado State University’s Urban Water Center first contacted me about the need for legislation to authorize use of gray water in late autumn 2010. I was somewhat familiar with gray water systems and their potential to significantly reduce municipal and industrial water consumption. However, I was unaware that Colorado was the only arid western state whose statutes did not recognize or explicitly authorize the installation and operation of gray-water systems. Roesner and his colleague Sybil Sharvelle and I worked to draft legislation and meet with a broad stakeholder group to develop support for legislation. I introduced our bill in December 2011 for consideration during the 2012 legislative session. Regrettably, HB 1003 fell victim to political considerations early in the session. I committed to continuing to work on the bill and reintroduce it in 2013. HB 1044 is the result of literally 2 1/2 years of work on the part of Roesner, Sharvelle and me.

Q: If gray water is safe and beneficial to use, why are gray-water systems illegal in Colorado?

A: Gray water derived from a properly designed and functioning system is safe for indoor use to flush toilets and for outdoor drip irrigation systems. However, current Colorado statutes do not recognize or explicitly authorize its use. The Legislature has likewise never directed the applicable regulatory agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), to promulgate rules or to set minimum statewide standards for its use. The absence of authorizing legislation, CDPHE rules and statewide standards has created regulatory uncertainty. This uncertainty prevents people from choosing to install gray-water systems because of the risk that their systems could be ruled illegal. When adopted, HB 1044 will direct CDPHE to promulgate rules and standards that will resolve the current regulatory uncertainty.

Q: What do Northern Colorado and the state have to gain by passing your bill, both environmentally and economically?

A: Gray water systems are capable of conserving 25 percent to 30 percent of the indoor water consumed in a typical residence. The water savings from new residential developments using gray water could be substantial and could be a cost-effective tool for helping to meet Colorado’s water needs for the 21st century. In addition, municipal water and wastewater service providers will realize energy and treatment cost savings in the operation of drinking water and wastewater treatment plants.

Q: This is the second time you’ve introduced a bill of this nature. Why did the first one get shot down, and what is different about this bill?

A: Bills dealing with water issues almost always are assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. However, last year’s gray-water bill was assigned by then-Speaker Frank McNulty to the House State Affairs Committee for its first hearing. Regrettably, the speaker’s choice of the State Affairs Committee to hear the 2012 bill indicated that he was not going to let it advance for purely political reasons. This year, the political environment for water conservations bills such as HB-1044 is greatly improved, and Roesner and I have had an additional year to continue working with stakeholders to build support for the bill.

Q: If passed, what are the next steps to implementing gray-water systems? Do you foresee any other major hurdles?

A: Upon passage of HB 1044, the CDPHE will be required to promulgate rules and minimum statewide standards for installation of systems and use of gray water. The State Plumbing Board also needs to adopt a version of the International Plumbing Code that recognizes gray-water systems and provides guidance for installers. Finally, local governments will have the choice of authorizing the use of gray water within their jurisdictional boundaries. Local jurisdictions will have to adopt ordinances or resolutions authoring the use of gray water in consultation with local health departments and water and wastewater service providers. After passage of the bill, I hope that education, outreach and public acceptance will grow with time such that gray-water systems become a routine part of new residential development and that the potential for water conservation is realized.

More graywater reclamation coverage here and here.


2013 Colorado legislation: HB13-144 (Authorize Graywater Use) passes state Senate Ag committee #COleg

April 29, 2013

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From KUNC (Nathan Heffel):

[Patti] Mason says water rights concerns, specifically the idea that every drop of rain is already bought and paid for, has kept state lawmakers from loosening their grip over graywater usage, despite the fact that using it would help conserve the precious resource…

Senator Ted Harvey, a Republican from Highlands Ranch, agrees. “The bill is different from the one last year,” Harvey says. “This is very voluntary. It does not require local water providers to regulate it, so it’s not a mandate on water providers.” Harvey, who supports the bill, says water conservation is increasingly on the mind of lawmakers at the State Capitol. “This is not a partisan issue; water is never a partisan issue,” said Harvey…

Patti Mason says the graywater bill has a pretty good chance of passing. But she says it’s just the first step in educating lawmakers about the full potential of graywater use.“I do think that broadening the community’s ability to capture precipitation is next,” said Mason. “There are examples of existing policy in place that has allowed for precipitation harvesting to take place in limited scale. “

The graywater bill easily passed through the House, and was approved unanimously in its first Senate hearing. If the bill is approved by both chambers, it would become law later this year.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


2013 Colorado legislation: HB13-144 (Authorize Graywater Use) passes state Senate Ag committee #COleg

April 18, 2013

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins and Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Lawmakers there will consider a $110,000 appropriation to fund development of gray water standards by the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

The measure passed the House Appropriations Committee unanimously earlier this month. “It’s looking pretty positive, I think, in terms of its possibility” of passing the Senate Appropriations Committee, Fischer said. “There’s no opposition to it that I’m aware of.”

Colorado water law allows just one use of water before it goes down the drain, through a wastewater treatment plant and back into the river for others to use. Gray water systems “actually aren’t legal right now,” Fischer said. He pointed out that the University of Colorado at Boulder cannot use a gray water system it installed in a newer residence hall because of state health regulations. “The most important thing the bill does is direct the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to promulgate minimum statewide standards for gray water systems,” he said.

The bill also lets cities and towns decide whether to approve gray water systems, he said.

More 2013 Colorado legisation coverage here.


2013 Colorado legislation: HB13-144 (Authorize Graywater Use) to get a hearing Wednesday in state Senate committee #COLeg

April 16, 2013

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From The Denver Post (Lynn Bartels):</p

Graywater is wastewater in a building that comes from showers, hand-washing sinks and washing machines. It does not come from toilets, urinals or kitchen sinks. Colorado is the only western state that doesn’t allow treated graywater to be used for flushing toilets, landscaping and such, but a proposal scheduled to be heard Wednesday in a Senate committee would change that.

House Bill 1044, by [Senator Gail] Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, legalizes the use of graywater, calls for the development of regulations to protect the public health and gives cities and counties the discretion to offer graywater permits to single- or multi-family dwellings.

Bill supporters say a household with four people could save 58,000 gallons a year if it had a graywater filtration system installed.

The House unanimously passed the measure, which will be heard Wednesday by the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, who sits on the committee, said he’s excited to hear the bill. “As long as we can protect the downstream users’ historical rights, there is nothing wrong with this idea,” he said. “A lot of money and energy goes into cleaning up water to bring it to drinking water standards, merely to put it on lawns and flush toilets, and we don’t need to do that.”

Schwartz also addressed that point, saying a number of Colorado’s wastewater treatment facilities are aging and need to be updated. She said the use of graywater would mean less input into those plants.

Fischer said he got the idea for carrying the bill from two Colorado State University professors who have been working on graywater issues. They have a graywater disinfectant vat set up in one of the residence halls and have been testing the system.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


HB13-1044 (Authorize Graywater Use) passes the state house, now on to the state senate

April 9, 2013

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From email from State Representative Randy Fisher:

I’m pleased to announce that one of my top priority bills for the 2013 legislative session, HB-1044, was passed in the House on third reading on April 5. If the bill becomes law, it will authorize the use of graywater recycling in Colorado and will provide Coloradans with a powerful and readily available water conservation tool.

HB-1044 has its roots at CSU where professors Larry Roesner and Sybil Sharvelle have conducted foundational research and development on graywater systems. Drs. Roesner and Sharvelle are the co-directors of the Urban Water Center at CSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Both professors have spent countless hours at the Capitol advocating for passage of HB-1044. They have earned my respect and gratitude for their efforts to help write and advocate for the bill.

“Graywater” consists of the discharge from fixtures other than toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers that is collected and recycled within residential, commercial, or industrial facilities with minimal treatment in accordance with public health standards. HB-1044 amends Colorado’s public health statutes to allow more efficient first-use of water by enabling the recycling of graywater within the facilities in which it is generated. Graywater reuse is an important municipal and industrial water conservation tool that has the capability of reducing per capita water consumption by up to 30%.

The Coloradoan newspaper had a very positive editorial about HB-1044 in its Sunday, February 3, edition. Here is a link to the article:

http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20130202/OPINION01/302020020/Editorial-Fischer-leading-way-water-bills.

A critical vote on the HB-1044 occurred last week when the House Appropriations Committee voted to approve a small general fund appropriation required by the health department for rulemaking. The approval of the appropriation paved the way for consideration of the bill in the House. The Senate will begin deliberation on HB-1044 in the coming days.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


2013 Colorado legislation (HR13-1044): ‘Perhaps a gray future is not such a bad thing, after all’ — Anna Mitchell #coleg

January 28, 2013

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From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Anna Mitchell):

I do not live in a country where safe drinking water is difficult to come by. Not only is my apartment’s water treated, but I have the means available to take my tap water and purify it further. We have so much clean water that it is used for things that purification is not even necessary for, such as flushing a toilet.

I am fortunate to have access to potable water on command. But that access could be unnecessarily excessive.

For water to be deemed potable, it must undergo an energy-consuming treatment to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards of what is deemed safe to ingest, cook with, and bathe in. However, we use potable water for things like toilet flushing and irrigation despite there being no standards saying our toilet water must be safe to drink.

Greywater, or wastewater that consists of low levels of organic waste, is what drains from bathroom sinks, showers, and washing machines. While graywater is not deemed safe for drinking, there does not seem to be any problems for uses like plant irrigation. Greywater also does not require the same energy-consuming treatment that potable water necessitates.

Water conservationists, led by state Rep. Randy Fischer, have proposed a bill that will recognize graywater systems as a legal process in regions that decide to permit it as such. The bill was recently endorsed by the Colorado Water Congress. While I find water rights to be one of the most infuriating legal institutions in existence, I overall applaud these efforts in sustainability…

My support comes with a few conditions. The amount of effluent, or pollutant run-off, must be kept absolutely minimal. We cannot be initiating sustainability efforts for environmental conservation at the cost of harming the environment in other ways.

There should be absolutely no health concerns that result from having graywater around. The practicality and costs of initiating a system that separates greywater from potable water and black water (water containing large amounts of organic waste, such as from kitchen sinks and flushed toilets) should also be taken into consideration…

Perhaps a gray future is not such a bad thing, after all.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here. More graywater reclamation coverage here and here.


2013 Colorado legislation (HB13-1044): Consumptive use challenge on the horizon if the bill passes?

January 26, 2013

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Patrick Malone):

Sometime in the next three to five weeks, with the flip of a single valve, toilet tanks in the residence hall will fill with recycled water, a testament to [researchers Larry] Roesner and [Sybil] Sharvelle’s work.

“We are very anxious for that first flush,” Roesner said. “We are ready to flush the toilet, but we’re taking some final tests to make sure it’s OK.”

The conversation around gray water in Colorado also faces a new test.

A gray water bill by state Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, has undergone some fine-tuning and appears poised to pass after a similar measure met swift defeat last year. This year’s incarnation faces its first hurdle Monday in the House Agriculture Committee that Fischer chairs.

Fischer’s bill would recognize gray water systems as legal in statute, enable regulation of them to protect public health and grant cities and counties discretion to permit them — or not, if they so choose…

“We can save about 50 percent of the indoor demand by using gray water for toilet flushing, and we can save about 30 percent of overall annual demand by gray-water reuse,” Roesner said. “A household of four could save 58,000 gallons a year using gray water, and a 40-home subdivision would save over 2 million gallons a year.”

“There are not many other conservation practices that would allow you to achieve those types of conservation benefits,” Fischer said.

But that wasn’t enough to get a proposal off the ground at the Legislature last year. In its first committee hearing, Republicans killed it on a party-line vote.

“It’s been interesting, because it seems like a relatively simple idea, yet it’s been so difficult to achieve in legislation,” Fischer said.

Opponents of last year’s version of the bill say concerns that proliferation of gray water systems would harm downstream water-rights holders — not partisan politics — torpedoed Fischer’s first bid.

“That has always been my concern, how it affects downstream water users,” said agriculturally-oriented Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


2013 Colorado legislation: Northern Water hopes to push graywater reclamation bill this session #COleg

January 11, 2013

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

Colorado water law allows just one use of water before it goes down the drain, through a wastewater treatment plant and back into the river for others to use. There are exemptions, however. For instance, Denver International Airport is allowed to use graywater from its sinks for sprinkler water on remote fields that are closed off to the public.

Republican lawmakers in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee narrowly defeated the bill in a 5-4 vote in committee last year. Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, will reintroduce the bill [HB13-1044: CONCERNING THE AUTHORIZATION OF THE USE OF GRAYWATER], which he thinks stands a better chance of drawing bipartisan support this year.

Fischer, chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, explained that he believes House Speaker Mark Ferrandino will help send the bill to the full House. Water bills are usually first considered in the agriculture committee.

Fischer also has tweaked the bill slightly to win support from lawmakers, including addressing concerns about water rights, he said. The bill also rights, he said. The bill also would authorize the state Water Quality Control Commission to create rules for graywater use, a provision meant to address public health concerns…

“I think it’s very important to have as many tools available as possible to promote wide use of our water sources,” Fischer said.

Northern Water agrees and plans to endorse the bill in its role as a member of the Colorado Water Congress, a water advocacy group comprised of districts throughout the state, officials said…

Northern Water also plans to back a bill from Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, that will ensure water left in reservoirs is not considered abandoned and released.

“Water storage is critical to Colorado’s water needs going forward,” Hodge said in an email. “Clearly defining its use is vital.”

The bill would reverse parts of a state Supreme Court decision in Upper Yampa Water Conservation District v. Wolfe from 2011. The high court upheld a lower court’s decision that to keep a water right, a water district must show it has used the resource.

Northern Water General Manager Eric Wilkinson supports the bill because he has concerns that the court decision will prevent use of water in reservoirs that see occasional use but serve the important purpose of storing water for use during droughts.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


2013 Colorado Legislation: State Representative Randy Fischer will chair the Agriculture Committee

January 3, 2013

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Patrick Malone):

[State Representative Randy Fischer] will chair the House Committee on Agriculture, which is likely to be ground zero for natural resources legislation and forest health. The reach of local government to limit oil and gas development — including the practice of hydraulic fracturing — and efforts to diminish the likelihood of wildfires, could pass through the panel.

But Fischer hopes that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s ongoing rule-making process will reconcile conflicts between communities and the oil and gas industry over well setbacks and air and water quality so lawmakers don’t have to…

Fischer’s first bill of the new session will seek to authorize graywater systems that reuse domestic wastewater as a means of conservation. He also plans to carry legislation aimed at addressing drought and water shortages.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


Boulder: Council to consider new agreement to allow testing of graywater system for dormitory

October 1, 2012

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Erica Meltzer):

The city’s Water Resources Advisory Board has already recommended approval of the agreement. The Boulder City Council will consider it Tuesday.

The dorm, which opened in fall 2011, houses 500 students near Baseline Road and 30th Street and received top green credentials from the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the only residence hall of its size in the nation to earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum rating for its sustainability features. However, the university hasn’t yet been able to take advantage of additional plumbing installed during construction that would allow water from sinks and showers to be captured, filtered, treated and reused for flushing toilets. That’s because case law around water rights in Colorado protects downstream users from the potential loss of water that gets reused instead of being returned to the watershed…

However, that may be less of a concern when graywater is used in toilets — which ultimately send water into the same wastewater treatment system that handles water from sinks and showers — than it is when graywater is used for irrigation, Arthur said.

As part of the agreement, CU will carefully monitor water use in the building and report all that information to the city. Arthur said that will allow city officials to assess the impact of graywater systems on the larger water delivery and treatment system and might provide the basis to lobby for changes to state law…

In the meantime, the city is designating water from the Western Slope that it receives through the Colorado-Big Thompson water project for Williams Village North. Because that water is not from the Boulder Creek watershed, it’s subject to different rules and is eligible for reuse, Arthur said. That way, no downstream users should complain they aren’t getting all the water they are owed.

More graywater reclamation coverage here and here.


Prior appropriation snags plans by the University of Colorado to implement a graywater system in a new dorm

February 22, 2012

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Brittany Anas):

… it may be at least another year before CU can begin recycling the dorm’s water through a planned pilot program. “It’s a simple concept,” said Moe Tabrizi, CU’s campus conservation officer. “The complexity is in the water law and water rights.”[...]

So far, CU has spent $230,000 on a plumbing system in the Williams Village North building capable of recapturing water from showers and sinks, sending it to a collection tank to be disinfected through a filtration system and then re-circulating it through separate plumbing system that would only be used for toilets, said Malinda Miller-Huey, a spokeswoman for CU’s Boulder campus.

Once CU gets the green light to use the graywater system, campus officials will need to install a collection tank and filtration system, according to Miller-Huey. She didn’t have a cost estimate for that portion of the project.

A bill introduced earlier this year would have given local municipalities greater control over graywater use, allowing them to pass their own regulations. The measure, which had Boulder County’s support, died in committee.

More graywater reclamation coverage here.


2012 Colorado legislation: Graywater bill dies in committee

February 6, 2012

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

Lawmakers in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to quash the measure late Wednesday, according to a statement from state House Democrats. Introduced by Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, the bill aimed to create a legal definition of graywater, which comes from showers and sinks.

Graywater can be used for toilet flushing, outdoor irrigation and other purposes. Currently classified as wastewater that cannot be legally reused in Colorado, graywater is used in homes and businesses in other Western states, according to House Democrats.

The bill would have ordered the state Water Quality Control Commission to enact public health guidelines that promote its use.

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here.


NSF International Publishes First American National Standard for Water Reuse Systems

November 23, 2011

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Here’s the release from NSF International:

NSF International, a global public health and environmental organization, has published the first American national standard for commercial and residential onsite water reuse treatment systems, NSF/ANSI 350: Onsite Residential and Commercial Reuse Treatment Systems. The new standard complements NSF’s expanding scope of environmental standards and sustainable product standards, which help establish criteria for and clear methods of evaluating environmental and sustainable product claims.

NSF/ANSI 350: Onsite Residential and Commercial Reuse Treatment Systems establishes criteria to improve awareness and acceptance of water reuse technologies that reduce impacts on the environment, municipal water and wastewater treatment facilities, and energy costs. According to the American Water Works Association, 84 percent of residential water is used in non-drinking (non-potable) water applications such as lawn irrigation, laundry and toilet flushing. Residential and commercial builders, architects and regulators are turning to onsite wastewater reuse systems as a solution to increasing water scarcity and energy costs associated with the treatment and distribution of municipal water and wastewater.

Certifying a water reuse system to NSF/ANSI 350 also satisfies requirements for leading green building programs. The U.S. Green Building Council has included reference to NSF/ANSI 350 in their LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Building Design & Construction 2012 Draft Standard. Products certified to NSF/ANSI 350 also could satisfy graywater use strategies under the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) National Green Building Certification program as an innovative practice.

NSF developed this American national standard for evaluating onsite water reuse technologies to ensure the systems properly treat graywater (i.e. wastewater generated from activities such as laundry and bathing) and combined wastewater (i.e. all sources of wastewater generated within a residence or building) for reuse in non-potable applications. NSF/ANSI 350 establishes materials, design and construction, and performance requirements for onsite residential and commercial water reuse treatment systems and sets water quality requirements for the reduction of chemical and microbiological contaminants for non-potable water use. Treated wastewater (i.e. treated effluent) can be used for restricted indoor water use, such as toilet and urinal flushing, and outdoor unrestricted water use, such as lawn irrigation.

Shawnee, Kansas-based Bio-Microbics, Inc., a manufacturer of clean technologies, is the first company to earn NSF/ANSI 350 certification for their Bio-Barrier® membrane bioreactor (MBR). NSF scientists conducted an evaluation spanning more than six months of continuous operation of the Bio-Microbics Bio-Barrier® MBR treatment system at one of NSF’s approved wastewater testing facilities.

“Certification to NSF/ANSI 350 positions onsite water reuse technologies as a viable solution to increasingly overburdened water and wastewater treatment facilities, water scarcity, and increasing costs associated with energy and water use,” said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF Sustainability. “Innovative clean technology manufacturers, such as Bio-Microbics, can now demonstrate the acceptability and effectiveness of their products, helping these technologies to be adopted more quickly into the marketplace.”

“Bio-Microbics is proud to be the first to earn certification against the new NSF water reuse treatment standard, which provides a sustainability benchmark to certify water reuse products,” said Bob Rebori, President of Bio-Microbics. “With green building and sustainable products becoming the focus of regulators, commercial and residential builders, and consumers, this new standard provides the water reuse industry with a way to meet the needs of their customers and set their products apart from those with unsubstantiated environmental claims.”

To learn more about NSF/ANSI Standard 350, contact Tom Bruursema at nsf350@nsf.org, +1.734.769.5575 or visit nsf.org/info/nsf350. Click here to purchase a copy of the standard…

About NSF International (NSF): NSF International (nsf.org) has been testing and certifying products for safety, health and the environment since 1944. As an independent public health and safety organization, NSF’s mission is to protect human health and the environment through standards development, auditing, testing and certification for the food, water, build/construction, retail, consumer products, chemical and health science industries. Operating in more than 150 countries, NSF is committed to protecting human health worldwide and is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise in standards development, product assurance and certification to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains. NSF also founded the National Center for Sustainability Standards, a national initiative to support the development of sustainability standard activities.

More graywater reclamation coverage here.


2012 Colorado legislation: Are approved gray water systems on the horizon?

September 11, 2011

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They will be if CSU assistant professor, Sybil Sharvelle and CSU professor, Larry Roesner, can convince enough legislators that public health is not a concern along with the folly of not reusing outflows from dish washing, clothes washing, showers and other activiites that generate gray water in the home. Here’s a report from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

Sharvelle and professor Larry Roesner want the Legislature to pass a law that gives state water regulators the power to write new rules for reusing water from showers, sinks and washing machines.

They have run tests for several years on household systems that collect used water in tanks about the size of a hot-water heater and redirect the water into toilets or gardens.

Legislators on the Water Resources Review Committee voted 9-0 Wednesday to start writing a bill to be introduced in 2012, although some lawmakers had qualms about it.

“I’m a little gun shy, but I guess it doesn’t hurt for us to draft a bill and take a look,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.

Sonnenberg’s hesitation stems from one of the unresolved questions about gray water. His largely agricultural district lies downhill from Denver, and if many people in the metro area start reusing their water instead of literally flushing it down the drain, it could lead to less water in the rivers downstream.

More gray water coverage here.


Grand Junction: City of Grand Junction Environmental Laboratory evaluating gray water samples for coliform and E.coli bacteria

July 25, 2009

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Jo Holcomb):

Gray water contains household products, such as shampoos or detergents, and the effect on the environment is virtually not known at this time. That’s why CSU professors Sybil Sharvelle and Larry Roesner started a three-year research project to study the effects of irrigating with gray water. Specifically, the researchers are looking for negative effects on humans or plants. That’s where the city of Grand Junction Environmental Laboratory comes into play. The laboratory, in conjunction with Denis Reich, Western Slope water specialist, performed tests on bacteria for the study. From January through March 2009, gray water from baths, showers, sinks and washing machines was collected by volunteers from Curtis Swift’s master gardener class, at CSU Cooperative Extension Service. These samples were delivered to the city of Grand Junction Environmental Laboratory, which conducted the monitoring on total coliform and E.coli bacteria. Results of these cultures will be used in the researchers’ study.

More Coyote Gulch gray water reclamation coverage here.


Colorado infrastructure needs

March 20, 2009

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Here’s a look at the federal stimulus bill and projected shortfalls in funding for infrastructure in Colorado, from David Olinger writing for the Denver Post. From the article:

• Colorado now has 395 wastewater projects in need of state or federal assistance, including $444 million in new projects from cities hoping for economic stimulus money. The new total: $2.6 billion. The highest-priority projects alone total $202 million, almost seven times the amount coming to Colorado from the federal government…

• Statewide, the capacities of 169 dams have been restricted until repairs can be made. Colorado’s dam safety program has prepared a list of 30 “shovel-ready” repair projects that could be carried out for $11 million. Eight are “high-hazard” dams, meaning human lives probably would be lost if they failed. But the stimulus bill did not set money aside to repair state-regulated dams…

Statewide, there were 600,000 septic systems in Colorado as of 2002, serving one-fourth of Colorado residents, and thousands have been built yearly since then. Twenty-two stretches of rivers and creeks — from Fountain Creek and its tributaries north of Colorado Springs to mountain streams feeding the South Platte River — have tested positive for E. coli bacteria, an indication that fresh fecal matter is polluting them. In most cases, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials say they have not pinpointed the sources of these bacteria. But they suspect septic systems are fouling some of these streams. “Certainly, some of the problems we’re seeing in Fountain Creek, that’s what we’re thinking,” said Steve Gunderson, the state’s water quality director. Infrastructure: The word invites a yawn. Its nature invites neglect. Who sees the pipes that deliver and dispose of water, the undersides of bridges, the road beneath a cosmetic coat of asphalt, the seepage trickling from the wall of a dam? Yet in Colorado, and across the nation, the remarkable infrastructure systems our grandparents built are slowly crumbling, sometimes with devastating consequences. Some Colorado towns and unincorporated communities have been waiting years for a basic infrastructure component: their first sewer system…

[Jennifer] Williford, her husband and their two daughters live in Carter Lake Heights — a neighborhood built on a steep, rocky hillside in Larimer County…When her family moved in, they had to agree to temporarily put all their wastewater in a sealed tank until a sewer system was built. That was four years ago, and no sewer plan exists today.For decades, Larimer County permitted septic tanks and leach fields to dispose of wastewater at Carter Lake Heights. County health officials halted those permits before the Willifords moved in, citing septic-system failures that left sewage leaking above ground and across the neighborhood’s dirt roads. The only option: sealed vaults. In a septic system, solids accumulate in the tank, but the liquids from toilets, dishwashers, showers and washing machines flow into an adjacent leach field. In a sealed vault, nothing leaves. It must be pumped out whenever wastewater fills it, or sewage will back up into the house. For the Willifords, the charge is $280 per visit, plus $100 if the driver has to chain up in the snow. They do all they can to avoid putting water in their sealed tank. Flush for solids only. Never use the Jacuzzi tub. Take short showers…

State health officials intend to assist sewer projects that benefit public health first, but only if they’re ready for construction. Preliminary engineering drawings are due this month, final applications next month, for sewer construction projects that could begin by September. Projects costing $2.6 billion must compete for $30 million in federal funds.

More coverage from the Denver Post (David Olinger):

Colorado has minimized the risk of catastrophic failures with a highly regarded dam-inspection program. One consequence: In a state with a growing population and recurring water shortages, the safety program has restricted the storage capacity of 169 dams, including 21 high-hazard dams.
There is one federal dam in Colorado whose adequacy is debated — and whose failure would be catastrophic. It’s the reservoir in Cherry Creek State Park…

Fourteen years ago, a study for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led to this startling conclusion: The “probable maximum precipitation” event in the Cherry Creek basin could put a 2-foot wall of water over the dam. A subsequent study for the state envisioned a smaller maximum potential rainstorm — and concluded the dam would hold the runoff. “Depending on the figure you choose, the spillway is adequate or inadequate,” said Mark Haynes, the chief of Colorado’s dam-safety program. “We do not have any problems with the hydrological adequacy.” The Corps of Engineers study defined the maximum storm as dumping 17 inches of rain in nine hours after other storms had partially filled the Cherry Creek reservoir — in short, much worse than any storm in Denver’s recorded history…

The probable maximum storm “is a once-in-forever type of event. Worldwide, there have been dams that have seen that event,” said John Palensky, the Cherry Creek dam-safety study manager at the Corps. “We have to live in that world where you look at the improbable.” Palensky said the Cherry Creek dam is structurally sound, and he would not worry about living downstream. But the capacity question, combined with extraordinary population growth below the dam since the 1940s, led the Corps to consider safety options, from raising the dam or enlarging its spillway to storing more water upstream. As of the 1990s, the Corps estimated more than 120,000 people and $30 billion worth of property were below this dam. Interstate 225 passes directly adjacent to the dam; southeast Denver and Aurora lie downstream. Under the Corps’ rules, dams must be large enough to hold 100 percent of the water from a probable maximum precipitation event, and in that event, “there is a potential that the Cherry Creek dam could overtop,” Palensky said. In a Corps region that covers parts of six states, other federal dams are in worse condition. Yet the Cherry Creek dam, “out of all of our dams, is our highest dam-safety priority,” he said. The downstream population “puts it as the No. 1 on our priority list.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.


Graywater reclamation research

March 5, 2009

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Colorado State University is taking on the job of doing the science around gray water reclamation systems in order to develop recommendations. Here’s a report from CSU via the Athletic Turf News. From the article:

Graywater – nonpotable water from showers, handwash sinks and laundry – is used for residential landscape irrigation in a number of states in the Southwest; however, little is known about long-term effects of this practice, according to Colorado State University civil engineers.

Sybil Sharvelle and Larry Roesner, professors with the Urban Water Center in Colorado State’s College of Engineering, are in the first year of a 3-year $370,000 graywater study awarded by the Water Environment Research Foundation to investigate the effects of using household graywater for residential landscape irrigation. They are sampling soil, plants, and water at homes with graywater systems in California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado. Four of the homes have graywater systems that have been in place for more than five years, and four additional homes will have new systems installed before spring of 2009.

Three homes with systems in place for more than 5 years – in Colorado, California and Texas – have been tested to date.

“We are assessing plant health, soil chemistry and microorganisms in graywater irrigation areas and comparing the findings with samples taken in the same yard where similar vegetation exists that is irrigated with city water,” Sharvelle said. “You can’t just assume that if a plant looks good now, that it has long-term viability. By applying scientific analyses of plant health, soil quality and microbial populations, we will be able to shed better light on whether it is safe to irrigate landscape for long periods with graywater.”

For the study, the team picked states where governments have taken interest in graywater systems or where regulatory processes have been established. California, for example, has detailed regulations for graywater irrigation systems, targeted at minimizing human interaction with graywater due to concerns about pathogens and graywater chemical constituents such as surfactants – a common ingredient in soap. Arizona has a permitting process that tracks graywater systems through the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Colorado is currently working to develop regulations for outdoor graywater reuse…

The study is one of four projects that Roesner and Sharvelle are leading on campus. The team also is working with the CSU Department of Facilities Management on several projects involving campus facilities including:

-Construction and monitoring of a wetlands treatment system for graywater at the Atmospheric Chemistry building on the Foothills campus. Students planted bull rushes and cattails last summer that, so far, are removing nearly all of the pathogen indicator organisms in sink and shower water, Sharvelle said. Researchers are also hauling shower and laundry water from a university residence hall to the Foothills campus to increase the quantity of water treated.

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-Installing an anaerobic digester at the Atmospheric Chemistry building to treat toilet water or “blackwater” and test it as a source of renewable energy. Anaerobic processes generate methane, which can generate electricity.

-Plumbing one wing of the new residence hall, under construction, for complete capture of graywater from sinks, showers and laundry water; in addition, water supply lines to toilets are being plumbed to use either domestic water, or non-potable water (irrigation water or conditioned graywater) for toilet flushing. Studies by Sharvelle and Roesner will determine what level of treatment of graywater is required to make it suitable for toilet flushing. They are working with Water Legacy, a Colorado manufacturer of graywater treatment systems.


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