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Can I Discharge My Greywater?

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Discharge greywater septic system

It’s a common misconception that the greywater from sinks, showers, and laundry doesn’t have to be sent through the septic system. Septic regulations are set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which only allows some types of greywater be discharged over lawns. Which types? It depends.

What is greywater?

According to TCEQ, greywater is defined as wastewater from:

  • Showers
  • Bathtubs
  • Hand washing lavatories
  • Sinks that are not used for disposal of hazardous or toxic ingredients
  • Sinks that are not used for food preparation or disposal
  • Clothes washing machines

Greywater does not include wastewater in contact with soiled human extract or wastewater in contact with toilet waste.

The 2005 rule for greywater discharge

Prior to 2005, homeowners were legally allowed to disconnect their greywater from their septic systems and discharge it onto their lawns.

If your laundry water is discharging onto your yard and it was disconnected prior to rule changes in 2005, you can continue discharging that water under the following regulations:

  • The discharge shall not create a public nuisance.
  • Surface ponding shall not occur.
  • The discharge area shall support vegetation.
  • The discharge area shall have limited access and use by residents and pets.
  • The greywater should not be discharged onto soil that is wet.
  • Detergents that contain a significant amount of phosphorus, sodium or boron should be avoided.
  • A lint trap should be at the end of the discharge line.
  • Laundry greywater that has been in contact with human or animal waste shall not discharge onto the lawn.

This rule does not allow you to discharge greywater from sources other than your laundry onto the lawn.

TCEQ adjusted its regulations in 2005, making it a violation for homeowners to discharge greywater directly onto the lawn.

Single-family dwellings that use less than 400 gallons of water per day are allowed to install special greywater systems separate from the main septic system, but they must be designed so that 100% of the greywater can be diverted to either system at any time.

This regulation contains many additional stipulations (including storage and disposal systems that require backflow preventers, certain piping, etc.), but it basically boils down to the fact that homeowners can no longer disconnect greywater and discharge it onto their lawns.

The septic system size cannot be reduced just because a homeowners wants to use a greywater system, and in most cases the cost of installing a proper greywater system does not appeal to homeowners.

The simple solution

It may seem strange to send greywater through the same system used to treat wastewater, but the TCEQ sets these regulations for a reason.

The simplest way to avoid violations and extra expenses is to make sure your greywater is sent through your septic system.

We are septic experts

Need help properly disposing of your greywater, or have questions about maintaining your septic system? Contact us for a free phone consultation. No sales pitch, just answers. We promise.


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