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Greywater Systems Are Sweeping The Nation- Why Not Chicago???

Across the country, and certainly the world, people will speak the praise of integrated greywater systems in the modern homestead.  In dryer climates, particularly non-urban, these are often considered part and parcel of an efficient, comfortable abode.

(simple layout from

(simple layout from

The folks at EcologyAction in Santa Cruz have shared a nice article looking at how this phenomenon continues to sweep the community there.  Such re-use systems have gotten great exposure as both “hip” and functional since the early 70’s (especially with popular publications like Shelter , by Lloyd Kahn.)  But it seems we continue to have arguments as a modern American culture as to whether these approaches are truly sanitary and “worth-it.”

In the recent piece from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, author Gretchen Wegrich looks at how it is not merely aesthetics or a new sense of responsibility that has citizens turning back to the classic laundry grey water system, but true need.  Things are getting dryer in most of California, and the nation- greywater is becoming a must!

So why has Chicago continued to drag its feet on water use codes?  Far from outlawing the practice, Santa Cruz County is actually paying some residents a $75 rebate for customers who install greywater irrigation systems! You’ll hear it’s because of population density, but increasingly, just as we saw with food plots in front yards, cities and towns are waking up to the understanding that these sustainable methods can, and indeed, often MUST, be a part of a contemporary approach to dwelling design.  Chicago has the luxury of copious volumes of fresh water…  Will this remain our excuse for waste?  While others in our world, nation, and, in fact, Illinois pay higher and higher fees for water use?  Will we continue to demand that residents water their shrubs with highly processed, impeccable drinking water?!?  I’m hoping we’ll see the Second City follow up its recent push for a sparkly Green image by modernizing their water use codes, and letting us use of our washer run-off for our backyards.  It’s safe, fun, and gardens love it!

Posted in Chicago, Design, Sustainable Business.

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