Graywater is Wastewater: Pick your Pipe Color
By Don Vandertulip
Posted August 5, 2010
For more than 30 years, utilities have been using purple pipe to designate high-quality municipally or privately treated domestic reclaimed water. Reclaimed water might be of different quality from one community or state to another, but uniformly, a utility oversees and provides control of the quality of reclaimed water that meets regulatory standards for the intended use. Recently, property owners have started to recognize onsite reuse of non-utility produced multiple source waters as a move to increase conservation of potable supplies, be environmentally responsible, and potentially gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points for commercial developments.
This movement has led to changes in plumbing codes and state regulations to allow use of such non-utility produced water on a private property resulting in distribution of untreated or minimally treated wastewater on private property in purple pipe for indoor (toilet flushing) and outdoor (surface irrigation) applications that were previously not permitted.
Many are aware of revisions to the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) published by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and the International Plumbing Code (IPC) distributed by the International Code Council (ICC). Many in our federation have responded to opportunities to revise the current codes. Sixteen individuals representing fifteen organizations submitted suggestions by February 2010 to change pipe color references in Sections 6.1.2 and 1610.2 of the 2009 UPC for the 2012 UPC. The ICC issued a draft International Green Construction Code (IGCC), Public Version 1 in March 2010 with comments accepted until May, 2010. Several individuals submitted twenty comments on Chapter 7 related to reclaimed water or one of the identified alternate waters based on potential public health implications. Both of these Code documents will go through two more rounds of revisions and comments. There is still opportunity for interested professionals to get involved, talk with your local plumbing code officials and understand how your community will distribute reclaimed water. Meanwhile check out the August issue of WE&T or the WEF White Paper to read more about graywater.