What Are The Rules For Grey Water In BC?

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In our role as an established septic tank cleaning service in Langley, BC, we have observed a growing trend toward adopting sustainable water management techniques, particularly in grey water recycling. Managing water wisely is very important. 

We all need to save water, and one way to do this is by using grey water. Grey water is used from showers, sinks, and washing machines. It’s different from toilet water, which is dirtier. 

In British Columbia, there are rules for using grey water to keep everyone safe and to protect the environment. 

As such, we will explain these rules and how to use grey water properly. Understanding and following these rules helps us use water better and care for our environment.

What Rules Should Be Followed for Grey Water Usage in BC?

Grey Water System

Treating and disinfecting grey water before you store or reuse it is crucial. This process reduces harmful germs that can cause diseases and prevents the water from becoming septic and smelly. Treating grey water makes it safer for reuse in activities like irrigation. 

In British Columbia, grey water is technically considered sewage under the Sewerage System Regulation. Its discharge onto land, into a source of drinking water, surface water, or tidal waters, is considered a health hazard. All domestic sewage must be directed into a public sewer or a sewerage system unless authorized under the 2012 Building Code.

The 2012 Building Code permits the construction of non-potable water systems and subsurface irrigation with non-potable water. Furthermore, Health Canada’s Guidelines for Domestic Reclaimed Water for Use in Toilet and Urinal Flushing provide detailed guidance on grey water systems [1]. 

Local governments in BC may also enact bylaws allowing for the surface discharge of grey water if it aligns with the building code provisions for grey water disposal. These include: 

  • Health and Safety Compliance: Grey water systems in BC must meet specific health standards, aligning with municipal, provincial, and Health Canada guidelines. This includes treating and disinfecting grey water to minimize health risks.
  • Local Authority Oversight: Systems with smaller flows require local health authority approval, while larger systems might necessitate an environmental impact statement.
  • Installation Standards: Grey water systems should be professionally designed, with careful attention to preventing contamination of potable water supplies. Additionally, septic system lot size requirements are typically determined by local regulations and should be taken into account during the installation process.

Best Practices for Grey Water Management

Proper management of grey water is essential to mitigate health risks and environmental impacts. Key considerations include:

  • Household Chemicals: The detergents and cleaning products used in the home can significantly impact the quality of grey water. Biodegradable and non-toxic products are preferable.
  • Irrigation Practices: When used for irrigation, grey water should ideally be applied below the ground surface to minimize human contact and reduce health risks. Care should be taken not to over-irrigate, as this can lead to runoff and potential contamination of nearby water sources.
  • Plant and Soil Health: Regular monitoring of soil quality and plant health is necessary, as certain chemicals in grey water can accumulate over time, potentially harming plants and altering soil properties.
  • System Maintenance: Regularly maintaining grey water systems is crucial to ensure they function effectively and safely. This includes cleaning filters, checking pumps, and monitoring storage tanks.

Grey Water Treatment and Reuse

Grey Water System in the Garden

Treatment systems for grey water vary in complexity, from simple filtration to advanced treatment processes that include disinfection. 

These systems must be designed to meet local guidelines and standards. Reuse applications for treated grey water include:

  • Toilet Flushing: This is a common use of treated grey water, reducing households’ demand for potable water.
  • Garden Irrigation: Grey water can be used for garden watering, though precautions should be taken to avoid contact with edible plants, particularly those eaten raw.
  • Laundry Water: Treated grey water can be reused in washing machines, though it’s important to ensure it meets the necessary quality standards.

Special Considerations

Certain aspects require special attention when dealing with grey water:

  • Laundry Water Quality: Laundry grey water may contain high salts, harming plants and soil. Choosing the right detergents and monitoring soil quality are crucial.
  • Health and Safety: Clear guidelines should be for handling grey water to prevent contamination and exposure. This includes proper system design, installation, and maintenance.

Also read: Can I Install My Own Septic System In BC?

Key Takeaways

Managing grey water responsibly is crucial for environmental sustainability and water conservation in British Columbia. By adhering to the provincial guidelines and adopting best practices, individuals and businesses can contribute significantly to these efforts. 

It’s essential to consult with local health units and the BC Ministry of Health for specific regulations and advice. Thus, we provide a comprehensive overview that differs from professional consultation or regulatory compliance.

As your local septic tank cleaning experts in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, we provide septic tank cleaning services. We ensure compliance with all septic system regulations set by British Columbia health and environmental authorities. 

Contact us for more information or assistance setting up a greywater system in your home. We’re committed to providing top-notch service while helping you contribute to environmental conservation. 

Check our service areas for septic cleaning:

Septic Tank Cleaning in Surrey
Septic Tank Cleaning in Chilliwack
Septic Tank Cleaning in Abbotsford
Septic Tank Cleaning in Maple Ridge

Reference:

  1. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/waste-management/sewage/onsite-sewerage-systems/what_is_grey_water.pdf

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