Going Grey

DIY greywater challenge underway

When Phoebe and David Antonio of Cotati decided (albeit nervously) to accept the Greywater Systems 100 Challenge this summer, their home project—thanks to eager volunteers and free tools—became more like barn-raising than greywater-routing, considering all the friendly and free help that came their way.

“We’re not handy persons,” Phoebe tells the Bohemian, laughing. “We don’t have the background for this kind of thing.” Being generally disinclined toward do-it-yourself projects, the couple happily accepted the following assistance: tools borrowed from the Santa Rosa Tool Lending Library, labor from three “wonderful women” (two locals and one Marin resident) from the greywater workshop, plus free materials and on-site technical advice from the staff of Daily Acts, the Petaluma nonprofit sponsoring the greywater workshops.

The Antonios attended Daily Acts’ “Laundry-to-Landscape” greywater workshop Aug. 11 in Petaluma, the largest such workshop ever conducted in North America; theirs was one of 31 new greywater projects established as a result of that workshop. For the Antonios, greywater wasn’t an economic but an environmental decision. “We aren’t saving any money,” explained Phoebe. “We did it to keep all that water from just going down the sewer. You have to dig a mulch bed so the water [drained from the washing machine] doesn’t pool up in the yard. We got a lot of hands-on experience at the workshop. One really impressive thing was that some of the people who came to the workshop just wanted to help other people.”

Daily Acts set the greywater systems challenge goal at 100 new systems to be installed in Sonoma County by Sept. 30, which is expected to result in an estimated one-half million gallons of water annually recycled as landscape irrigation water.

“We feel like it’s the way of the future, says Phoebe. “Homes are going to be built with greywater installed as just a normal part of how you operate your washing machine or sink.”

The Greywater Systems 100 Challenge is supported by the cities of Santa Rosa, Cotati, Sonoma and the town of Windsor. For free workshops in September and October (including workshops given in Spanish), see www.dailyacts.org. Anyone may attend the workshops for free, but only water customers can receive free materials for greywater systems. For Petaluma, Windsor and Cotati water customers, materials are free while supplies last. Santa Rosa workshop registration is by phone at 707.543.4523.

Also, a city of Sonoma-sponsored workshop hosted by Transition Sonoma Valley, Daily Acts and the Sonoma Ecology Center takes place Oct 13–14, providing materials for city of Sonoma water customers. See www.transitionsonomavalley.org.