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Graywater 

DEQ administers a new program that permits the reuse of graywater through a graywater reuse and disposal system. The 2009 Oregon Legislature, with the passage of House Bill 2080, authorized development and adoption of rules to create the graywater permitting program. Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission approved the rules on Aug. 25, 2011. DEQ began accepting graywater permit applications in April 2012.

Introduction

Under Oregon law, graywater includes shower and bath wastewater, bathroom sink water, kitchen sink wastewater and laundry wastewater. Graywater does not include toilet or garbage wastes, or wastewater contaminated by soiled diapers.

Graywater can be contaminated with organic matter, suspended solids or potentially pathogenic microorganisms. However, if appropriately collected and handled, graywater can be safely reused for flushing toilets and urinals as well as irrigating certain trees and plants. Reuse of graywater reduces the demand on other sources of water, such as potable water, surface water and groundwater.

Oregon recognizes three types of graywater:

  • Type 1: Untreated or has passed through a physical process to remove solids, fats, oils and grease.
  • Type 2: Has passed through some type of chemical or biological process, such as a wetland, to further reduce solids and organic matter.
  • Type 3: Type 2 graywater that is also disinfected.

How to get a graywater permit

A person seeking to reuse graywater must first obtain a permit from DEQ. Three different permits for graywater reuse and disposal systems are available. 

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Tier 1 general permit (2401)

A Tier 1 general permit is available for single-family residences and duplexes with four bedrooms or fewer that generate less than 300 gallons per day of Type 1 graywater and use it solely for subsurface irrigation of landscape plants or compost. A person requesting coverage under the 2401 general permit must:

If the permit application and fees are complete, DEQ will notify the permit applicant by email or postal mail that coverage under the permit has been granted.

A guide to reusing graywater in the landscape is available for Oregon homeowners eligible for coverage under the 2401 general permit.

Tier 2 general permit (2402)

A Tier 2 general permit is available for any structure that generates less than 1,200 gallons of Type 1 or Type 2 graywater per day. A person requesting coverage under the 2402 general permit must submit to DEQ for review a complete permit application, including:

  • A new permit application
  • Permit fees of $584 ($534 new-application fee and $50 annual fee)
  • A system design plan
  • An operations and maintenance manual
  • A site evaluation report

If the permit application is complete, DEQ will review the documentation and notify the applicant if coverage under the Tier 2 permit is granted.

Tier 3 individual permit

DEQ will issue an individual permit for any system ineligible for coverage under a Tier 1 or Tier 2 general permit as well as to anyone not wanting coverage under a general permit. A person requesting coverage under a Tier 3 individual permit must submit to DEQ for review a complete permit application, including:

DEQ will review the material and develop an individual permit with site-specific conditions. Tier 3 permits are subject to a 30-day public comment period. The cost of an individual permit will vary based on the size and complexity of the graywater reuse and disposal system.

Non-potable use of graywater within a structure for toilet and urinal flushing is regulated under the state plumbing code. Additional information on water conservation practices within a structure is available from the Building Codes Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Technical Assistance

Monitoring and Annual Reports

The owner or operator of a graywater reuse and disposal system must monitor the operation of the system. An annual report certifying that the system was operated in compliance with the permit must be submitted to DEQ as described in the permit.

Tier 1 General Permit (2401)

A person operating a graywater reuse and disposal system under a Tier 1 general permit (2401) is not required to submit an annual report to DEQ. However, except in years when the general permit is renewed, an annual report may be submitted to DEQ in lieu of the $40 annual compliance fee. To waive the annual compliance fee, the annual report must be submitted to DEQ by January 15 using the DEQ report form.

Tier 2 General Permit (2402) and Tier 3 Individual Permit

A person operating a graywater reuse and disposal system under a Tier 2 general permit (2402) or a Tier 3 individual permit is required to submit an annual report to DEQ certifying that the system was operated in compliance with conditions in the permit.

Regulations and Other Information

DEQ regulates graywater reuse and disposal systems under Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 340, Division 53, which establishes a policy that encourages graywater reuse while protecting public health safety and welfare, public water supplies and waters of the state. The rules are based on recommendations from DEQ's Graywater Advisory Committee.

The rules define three types of graywater (Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3), based on level of treatment, and identify specific beneficial purposes, such as landscape irrigation, for each type of graywater. The rules also establish treatment and monitoring requirements, setbacks, access and exposure controls, and site management practices necessary to protect public health and the environment.

Program Contacts

Contact Region Phone  
Ron Doughten Statewide program coordination 503-229-5472 Email
Diane Naglee Eastern Region 541-523-9097 Email
Connie Schrandt Northwest Region 503-229-5347 Email
Dan Wiltse Western Region 541-687-7436 Email

Related Links

Oregon is one of a growing number of states that promotes a statewide graywater reuse policy. To see how other states regulate graywater reuse, see the following links:

[print version]

For more information on DEQ's Water Quality Division and its programs, see our contact page.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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