Graywater System Requirements

State of California’s Requirements for Clothes Washer Graywater Systems

Below are the State of California’s requirements for the exemption of permit requirements for Clothes Washer Graywater Systems. It is important to note that one of the main purposes for a graywater system is water conservation.

If all of the conditions below are met for a Clothes Washer Graywater System, then no permit is required.

[The below text is an excerpt from California Plumbing Code Title 24, Part 5, Chapter 16]

1603A.0 Permit

A written construction permit shall be obtained from the Enforcing Agency prior to the erection, construction, reconstruction, installation, relocation or alteration of any graywater system that requires a permit.

Exception: A construction permit shall not be required for a clothes washer system which does not require cutting of the existing plumbing piping provided it is in compliance with Section 1603A.1.1.

1603A.1 System Requirements

1603A.1.1 Clothes Washer System. A clothes washer system in compliance with all of the following is exempt from the construction permit specified in Section 108.4.1 and may be installed or altered without a construction permit:

1. If required, notification has been provided to the Enforcing Agency regarding the proposed location and installation of a graywater irrigation or disposal system.

Note: A city, county, or city and county or other local government may, after a public hearing and enactment of an ordinance or resolution, further restrict or prohibit the use of graywater systems. For additional information, see Health and Safety Code Section 18941.7.

2. The design shall allow the user to direct the flow to the irrigation or disposal field or the building sewer. The direction control of the graywater shall be clearly labeled and readily accessible to the user.

3. The installation, change, alteration or repair of the system does not include a potable water connection or a pump and does not affect other building, plumbing, electrical or mechanical components including structural features, egress, fire-life safety, sanitation, potable water supply piping or accessibility.

Note: The pump in a clothes washer shall not be considered part of the graywater system.

4. The graywater shall be contained on the site where it is generated.

5. Graywater shall be directed to and contained within an irrigation or disposal field.

6. Ponding or runoff is prohibited and shall be considered a nuisance.

7. Graywater may be released above the ground surface provided at least (2) inches (51 mm) of mulch, rock, or soil, or a solid shield covers the release point. Other methods which provide equivalent separation are also acceptable.

8. Graywater systems shall be designed to minimize contact with humans and domestic pets.

9. Water used to wash diapers or similarly soiled or infectious garments shall not be used and shall be diverted to the building sewer.

10. Graywater shall not contain hazardous chemicals derived from activities such as cleaning car parts, washing greasy or oily rags, or disposing of waste solutions from home photo labs or similar hobbyist or home occupational activities.

11. Exemption from construction permits of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any graywater system to be installed in a manner that violates other provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of the Enforcing Agency.

12. An operation and maintenance manual shall be provided. Directions shall indicate the manual is to remain with the building throughout the life of the system and indicate that upon change of ownership or occupancy, the new owner or tenant shall be notified the structure contains a graywater system.


In addition to the above requirements set by the State of California, residents who plan to implement a Clothes Washer Graywater System should be aware that graywater should not discharge or runoff into any stream beds.