Gray is the new green as Oregon officials finalize rules to legalize the use of so-called "gray water" to flush toilets and irrigate some landscapes, according to Sustainable Business Oregon.
One of Oregon's first authorized gray water projects went on line in June when the city of Portland opened the doors at Bud Clark Commons, a $46.9 million residence, shelter and day-use facility serving the city's homeless population. The facility at Union Station channels waste water from showers and washing machines to a treatment tank and then recirculates it to toilets.
The system lowers the building's need to buy drinking-quality water from the city and is expected to help shave thousands of dollars off its annual water bill.
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission approved final rules governing the use of gray water on Aug. 25. The Department of Environmental Quality expects to start issuing permits for gray water collection and treatment systems by spring.
Generally, gray water systems reuse water from showers and washing machines, treat it and then pipe it to toilets. It is considered a more reliable source of water for building operations than rain water.