Laundry to Landscape Legal in LA

Ludwig’s “Laundry to Landscape”
California’s new greywater code, passed in August of last year, was a big step in the right direction. The revised code legalized simple “laundry to landscape” systems of the sort promoted by greywater guru Art Ludwig and allowed their installation without a permit. Here’s a pdf from the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety confirming that you don’t need a permit within LA city limits for “a graywater system in a one or two-family dwelling that is supplied only by a clothes-washer and/or a single-fixture system.” Though, confusingly, it also goes on to say, “Any alteration to the building or plumbing, electrical or mechanical system
requires a permit.” I guess we shouldn’t expect clarity from a department that can’t seem to get around to regulating thousands of illegal billboards. But I digress. I’m calling my laundry to landscape greywater installation legal!
Hopefully all California cites will respect the state code. Ludwig says,

“Trying to sell permits to California graywater users is like trying to sell a $100 search engine that you have to register for to people who use google. Any standard that can’t compete with “free” and “zero time for compliance” is doomed to irrelevance.

The only way government agencies can compete is to offer “free”, “zero time for compliance” legal systems that are better, and can be installed by professionals instead of having to do it yourself.

This involves surrendering the illusion of control, in trade for actually making things better on the ground.”

By foregoing permits, city government can play a role in encouraging greywater. Legalizing the practice makes it possible for professional plumbers to do the installations in addition to plucky DIYers. Kinda like prostitution in Holland–keep it out in the open and you’l have less . . . shoddy plumbing.
See Art Ludwig’s excellent website to see how to install your own laundry to landscape system. His book, Create an Oasis with Greywater is also highly recommended. And, if you’ve got a laundry to landscape system, make sure to use Oasis Biocompatible Detergent.

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  1. Well neighbor, let’s get going on installing my greywater system! I think we have all the pieces…..they have been sitting on the side of my house all winter. I want my laundry feeding the landscape already.

  2. The greywater code is about the drought, and money and maybe a little bit of watershed protection. But mostly money. Requiring permits for greywater or for anything else is the modus operandi right now for LA and many cities, as their balance sheets are in the red as the result of plummeting tax revenues. Permits=cash and every city suffering the effects of the recession is trying to figure out ways to replace tax revenues (red light cameras anyone?). That said, most cities like LA have fewer and fewer resources for enforcement on a per property basis, so unless your system causes problems for your neighbors, or is a health hazard, or is deemed by some free-lance ‘real estate professional’ to be lowering property values, your greywater system is probably safe. My interpretation of that confusing DBS Info Bulletin is that hooking up a hose to the washer outlet is sanctified and permissible, no permit required as long as you don’t cut into the pipes. I appreciate Mr. Ludwig’s comments but I don’t quite get his ‘free’ legal & professional installation – someone has to pay somewhere for a professional installation don’t they?

    Regarding the digression, the battle over billboards in LA is shaping up to be a real brew-haha. Also about revenue loss and the city trying to extract what $ it can from an ‘overlooked’ source to close a huge budget gap. LAists on 3/24 may want to drop by this panel discussion at the Main library:

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