The Alternate Water Sources Working Group, which includes Permit Sonoma staff, convenes quarterly for speaker presentations and conversations on topics of water efficiency, conservation and reuse.
Alternate Water Sources Working Group History
The Sonoma County Graywater Working Group was formed in June 2008, following a water reuse workshop. This initial workshop focused on blackwater, graywater, groundwater, rainwater, and stormwater and its use and reuse. The workshop planted the seeds of possibility that in 20 years the idea of redirecting disinfected tertiary treated onsite wastewater into the house for clothes washing, toilet flushing and even showering would be commonplace.
While this group was trying to come up with “user friendly” graywater policies, the SB1258 graywater bill was moving through the State legislature and was signed into law by the governor July 22, 2008. At the same time, the County general plan was adopted which stated, “Where consistent with water quality regulations, encourage graywater systems, roof catchment of rainwater and other methods of re-using water and minimizing the need to use potable surface water or groundwater.”
These State and County policies determined the initial focus of the Sonoma County Graywater Working Group. The group’s first focus was to get up to speed on the State’s Graywater law, SB 1258. Other early activities included conducting a listening session that evolved into a survey of stakeholders and created a matrix of issues and indicators relevant to graywater. The survey results were compiled into a White Paper in February 2009 that formed the basis for the group’s comments to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
In 2013 the California Building and Standards Commission renamed the Graywater section of the Plumbing Code “Alternate Water Sources” and so our members voted to stay consistent with the state and this became the group’s new name.
With input from the Sonoma County Graywater Working Group and the group’s liaison, Sonoma County’s Chief Building Officer, DeWayne Starnes, the emergency statewide graywater regulations (California Plumbing Code Chapter 16A) were adopted on August 4, 2009. The final regulations were adopted on January 27, 2010.
The group decided that to have the biggest impact on the local community, they needed to educate community members about the new graywater standards. With financial assistance from the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, the group produced a comprehensive brochure emphasizing the Clothes Washer system. The final brochure was a collaborative effort with 9 other Sonoma County cities.
Other accomplishments of this working group include:
- Collaborating with the Sonoma County Water Agency to draft a graywater curriculum now incorporated into the Agency’s Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) Training Program.
- Surveying the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority team and other experts in the field of wastewater energy use about the benefits wastewater can provide from an energy/greenhouse gas (GHG) perspective. Their responses provided food for thought for further analysis by the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) committee.
- Presentations to state and local officials about the benefits of water reuse (Board of Supervisors, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health, California Environmental Health Association).
- Ongoing quarterly speaker presentations/dialogs on topics of water efficiency, conservation and reuse.