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By Ellen Knickmeyer
California, like many states, required that all water used in homes be disposed of along with wastewater, fearing health risks if the water was recycled improperly.
However, since 2010 it has backtracked and now encourages the recycling of gray water, which is usually used with soap, such as the sink, shower, bathtub and washing machine.
As mandatory water conservation measures were imposed starting this month, forcing many of the 38 million Californians to forget about green lawns in their gardens, water recycling systems have become an attractive option for new houses.
Robert Raymer, an executive with the California Construction Industry Association, highlights the payroll of builders who now routinely offer the recycling system.
And building codes make management easy by allowing homeowners to install the system without the need for a permit.
So while others manage to take advantage of the excess water in sinks and bathtubs, Negrín and Friedman are pleased knowing that every gallon of water they use in the shower means as much to the butterflies that flutter in their garden, to the lemon tree in the garden. background and for two curious chickens.
"I can have a lush garden if not all the water is wasted," Negrín said.
Because pathogens that thrive in used water can transmit disease if ingested by humans, most health and building codes have prohibited recycling, but many families have done so anyway, without supervision or permission.
Greywater Action, a group that promotes household water recycling and instructs families and installers on how to do it, estimates that more than a million Californians were using illegal systems before plumbing codes were updated.
However, interest in doing it the right way has grown since April 1, when Governor Gerry Brown ordered a 25% cut in water use in cities and towns.
Sassan Golafshan, a system installer in Palo Alto, said his website crashed in a single day due to the large number of interested parties connecting.
"There is great interest," said Laura Allen, co-founder of Greywater Action. Contractors "tell us they are getting a lot more calls than before."