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Diverting Water
updated: Mar 13, 2014, 9:12 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

A subscriber wants to know if anyone is diverting their washer rinse water out to their lawn or landscaping, and if they had to change their detergent to do so?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 502388 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 09:29 AM

I believe you don't need a permit from the City to divert your washer water, but do need a permit if you divert your sinks or shower drains.

The washer water is supposed to go in a drain pipe that is buried 2 inches below the ground as you're not supposed to surface flood your lawn with the water.

Of course there is the code, and there is what people actually do.

 

 COMMENT 502390 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 09:48 AM

I recently added grey water to my yard. I switched to "Ecos" soap which is grey-water safe, when I am sending to my yard, and still use Tide when I send it to the drain. The best price I found was at Ralphs downtown. Whole foods also sells it but it is a bit more expensive.

You want soap with a low salt content and to send it into a mulch basin.

 

 COMMENT 502391P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 09:51 AM

Been doing this for years. That lawn is always green and free!!! Always used Amway detergent.

 

 COMMENT 502400 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 10:38 AM

You may want to check " soap nuts" as well. Supposedly a natural way to do your wash. I haven't tried them. Google it.

 

 COMMENT 502404 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 10:50 AM

can you do this if you use a water softner to soften your water?

 

 COMMENT 502407 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 10:59 AM

City of SB website has an article on the subject. They have staff who will answer questions.

 

 COMMENT 502411 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 11:07 AM

I bar soap, all natural, grated. Two cups water. Simmer in sauce pan till dissolved. I cup washing powder and one cup borax. (No borax if worried about it on soil). Mix in and heat through till smooth. Add 11 liters of water. Simmer a short time. Cool. Put in plastic bucket. Cheap, easy and natural laundry soap. Works well.

 

 COMMENT 502415 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 11:28 AM

Yes 404, softened water from your faucets and shower heads DO NOT contain salt. However If you drain your softener through the same pipe as your washer DON'T divert this to your lawn, unless you relocate your softener drain.

 

 COMMENT 502416 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 11:29 AM

I've been diverting washing machine water and water softener water to my lawn for 24 years. My grass is fine. I've had no problem with salt from the softener. No need to use any special soap for the washing machine. By the time any water from your grey water discharge ever reaches groundwater, it will be clean. I don't live near any groundwater, so it is not even a consideration.

 

 COMMENT 502446P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 12:53 PM

391P, Amway is still in business?

 

 COMMENT 502460 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 01:21 PM

I believe you can use potassium instead of salt in the softener and it won't harm plants, but have never tried it myself.

 

 COMMENT 502487 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 02:40 PM

+460, yes, that's true. Your plants actually like the potassium. They don't like the sodium salt that most people use. Potassium's more expensive, about $20/bag (Costco), but good for people water drinking and plant watering, besides making your water soft (which is wonderful).

 

 COMMENT 502498 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 03:11 PM

I think water softeners change the "hard water" calcium and magnesium salts in the water to "soft water" sodium chloride (or potassium chloride) salts (two sodium atoms replace each calcium/mag atom) which dissolve soaps better and avoids scale buildup in pipes (not sure if that can actually weaken pipes compared to having some scaling...water treatment aims for a certain Langelier Index pH/alk/tds calculated value to be ever so slightly scaling). If you use high salt water, like from wastewater reclamation, which is about 3x higher than tap (tap~500ppm salts), they say to use 20%+ more water to avoid salt buildup in the surface soil. Low flow washers may concentrate the salts a bit higher. One solution to pollution is dilution, but that is harder to do in a drought.

 

 COMMENT 502557P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 06:37 PM

We lived in a house for 6 years that had a funky ,homemade way of doing this. A hose went to a barrel out to the yard..We did find soap at Trader Joes and Whole foods but we would have to hunt for it! It did water the yard but would also plug up the hose with sludge...It would over flow in the garage and we would unplug it and have to keep on top of it. I was proud our house had such a green way of doing things..but to be honest, the plants were happy but our clothes never looked super clean. Could never use bleach and I had three high school sports types.

 

 COMMENT 502560P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 06:39 PM

We lived in a house for 6 years that had a funky ,homemade way of doing this. A hose went to a barrel out to the yard..We did find soap at Trader Joes and Whole foods but we would have to hunt for it! It did water the yard but would also plug up the hose with sludge...It would over flow in the garage and we would unplug it and have to keep on top of it. I was proud our house had such a green way of doing things..but to be honest, the plants were happy but our clothes never looked super clean. Could never use bleach and I had three high school sports types.

 

 COMMENT 502565 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 07:26 PM

We currently divert our kids bath water into four 50 gallon drums outside. We bought an electric pump and the drums off Amazon for less than $300. The drums collect rain water when it rains. We divert four downspouts during storms. We use green shampoo for our kids and estimate the baths create 30 gallons of water per bath. Multiply that by baths per week and our plants are doing great. I suggest you go to Santa Barbara Utilities Online and check your water usage against your street and the whole city. Fascinating data.

 

 GRITZ agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-13 07:56 PM

I used Dr. Bronners peppermint and my plants loved it

 

 COMMENT 502593P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-14 03:10 AM

Yes I've done this for 5yrs. Dishwasher, washing machine, master bathtub, one of two kitchen sinks all go downhill to macademia and fruit trees. (Avocados wouldn't tolerate the salts.)

We use Oasis as detergent. I believe local water recycling guru Art Ludwig (author of several great books on graywater) started the company.

It cleans the clothes very well. Oasis stresses that their product is "biocompatible" not merely biodegradable. That is, biodegradable plastics break down into plastics, not elements like potassium or phosphorus for example.

You can find Ludwig's books on amazon. this one is all about graywater and he has another about water storage such as cisterns:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0964343398/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?
qid=1394791375&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40

Here is Ludwig's Graywater Guide for Contractors and Homeowners:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0964343320/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?
qid=1394791375&sr=8-3&pi=SY200_QL40

and you can find Oasis products on amazon as well:

Here is their laundry washing detergent:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B001KWGW3G/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?
qid=1394791614&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40

Here is their dishwasher detergent:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B001KW8WPM/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?
qid=1394791614&sr=8-1&pi=SL500_QL40

We use potassium water softener as well. I'd say the hundreds of gallons we reuse each week have substantially helped our trees and garden grow. Go for it!

 

 COMMENT 502642 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-03-14 08:57 AM

Another vote for Oasis laundry soap. I buy mine in bulk at the IV Food Coop. Plants appear to be doing just fine with it.

 

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