A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More Greywater Regulations Dead

I just returned from a week at the Dead Sea where I taught a course in water negotiations for UNESCO. Here is a photo of my Jordanian friend and colleague Mohammad Al-Atrash, a high level hydrogeologist with the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation standing at the Marriott overlooking the sunset on the Dead Sea and a participant in the Natural Resources Leadership Academy at Oregon State University this summer. It was a great location for the training, a great resort with many more under construction, and on the last day it was so clear I could see Jericho and Jerusalem from the *east bank*, which according to my driver was unusual. The Jordan Valley was the topic of the negotiations training, and part of the *intake* for the role play simulation was this incredible video of what is planned for the region under the Valley of Peace initiative.

The Middle East region gets a bad reputation from the western media. While the Arab Spring, and its associated ripples make good cover story, especially as Syria continues to unravel politically, little is said as to what *good* is happening in Jordan during these turbulent times. In a nutshell, Jordan is the destination of many of the displaced - the refugees from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and perhaps Egypt, I don't know nor did I ask specifically. I asked specifically about Syrian refugees, and the numbers apparently total about 250,000 along the Syrian-Jordan border. Water is a big problem in Jordan to begin with, and it is even more of a problem now with the refugees. And to make matters even more challenging, the Syrian refugees are apparently locating on the lands overlying one of the drinking water aquifers, and with the lack of sanitation facilities, there is concern about contamination.

With water scarcity omnipresent in the Holy Land, water reuse is a big deal. Greywater reuse has been profiled by the Rainbow Water Coalition from a previous visit here, along with interesting stories here, here, and who could forget the Star Trek theme park planned for here. There is not much fussing around with the different shades of greywater in Jordan.

And based on this article in the Texas newspaper, Austinist - Austin City Officials Revisit Their Greywater Recycling Laws. 

Unfortunately, requirements surrounding the construction of greywater systems are extremely difficult to meet. They are so intricate that only one person in the entire city has managed to set up a working, legal greywater system. In 2010, Rebecca Batchelder collaborated with her colleagues at Glenrose Engineering in order to pull wastewater from her shower and washer and reuse it to water the plants in her yard. Though the project was completed successfully, she did mention that dealing with Austin city codes was a hassle.

This is becoming a common theme elsewhere in the US, and was one of the reasons the Rainbow Water Coalition championed the Wyoming and Oklahoma approach to reusing greywater - throw these regulations out with the bathwater. Marin County, California faced the same dilemma and tossed their hammer approach to greywater regulation in favor of the more appropriate scalpel approach. Wisconsin also went back to the regulatory drawing board after noone was reusing greywater in that state.

Will Oregon also have to return to the drawing board with their graywater program given their prescriptive and expensive approach to greywater reuse? Insha'Allah.
* * *
The Dead Sea is the dead sea, 
because it continually receives and never gives.

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