Panelists on the “50 Shades of Graywater: What Does Water Reuse Mean for Your County?” panel discussed the implications of 2019 legislation (HB 535) authorizing limited graywater reuse in residential settings and the broader benefits and challenges of graywater reuse for local governments. The panel was held on December 4 at the MACo 2019 December Winter Conference.
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) On-Site Systems Division Chief Naomi (Nony) Howell discussed the 2019 legislation and the health risks dealing with graywater reuse inside as opposed to outside. Generally, Howell supported outside use where possible. Cross-contamination of clean water is also a major concern. MDE is currently working on graywater reuse regulations through a workgroup.
Frederick County Environmental Health Services Director Barry Glotfelty discussed the history of water reuse in Maryland, including prior statutes and regulations Glotfelty noted that toilet water is a main concern of public health and a lot of prior efforts focused on reducing water usage as opposed to reuse. Examples include composting and other waterless toilets.
Clean Water Action Maryland Program Coordinator Emily Ranson also discussed HB 535, noting that it was not a full graywater bill but limited to potable water sources. The goal of the bill was to preserve the life of septic systems. Ranson highlighted the benefits of graywater reuse, including water conservation and decreased stress on sewer and septic systems, as well as potential concerns. Ranson also discussed how other states are using graywater, including West Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, and California, and highlighted “optimal” graywater regulations.
The Honorable Andrew Cassilly, former Maryland Delegate and new Senior Advisor to Governor Larry Hogan, moderated the panel. Cassilly was the primary sponsor of HB 535.