Beware of Gray Water

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) _ A University of Georgia scientist says that bath, shower and laundry water is NOT safe for reuse because it might contain bacteria or other contaminants.

As the state's historic drought drags on, people are wondering whether they can safely and legally use "gray water'' on outdoor plants. While 13 states have laws that allow regulated gray water use, Georgia does NOT.

UGA hydrology professor Todd Rasmussen says that toilet and dishwater, considered "black water,'' is unsafe for human contact and should always be discarded.

Though gray water is less dangerous than black water, it could still contain traces of fecal matter, blood, or other contaminants. And if a person carries an infectious disease, the water could be dangerous for humans to contact on a lawn.

Rasmussen says that makes the case for putting gray water in the same category as black water and subjecting it to the same restrictions, though he added that the potential threat of relatively clean bathwater is less serious if it comes from someone who is healthy.

Rasmussen says that water that comes from a shower or sink spigot while waiting for water to get hot to use later for drinking, shaving, or brushing teeth is allowed, but it is only considered fresh or clean for about 24 hours, since the chlorine either evaporates or breaks down, opening the door to potential pathogens.


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