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April 22, 2014

City home first to include gray water system

NORMAN — Neighbors are likely to be green with envy when Allen and Sallie Ahlert have a beautiful lawn and garden without paying extra for city water in the future. That’s because the Ahlerts are including a gray water system in the new home they are building for their growing family.

“It is a bigger house and we do have five kids, but we hope to keep the impact on our environment as minimal as we can,” Sallie Ahlert said. “Our oldest will be a teenager this year, and our youngest is a year and a half.”

The gray water system is possibly the city’s first to be added to new construction. In November 2011, the state signed gray water legislation into law, allowing cities to create gray water ordinances, if desired.

The bill was authored by Norman resident, Rep. Scott Martin. Norman City Council enthusiastically and unanimously adopted a gray water ordinance in early 2012. That opened the door for concerned residents like the Ahlerts.

“I give credit for our lifestyle to Allen’s lead,” Sallie Alhert said. “He’s been an environmental steward, even before we had children.”

Sallie Alhert said it’s a lifestyle choice that includes teaching children to turn off lights and to be stewards of the environment.

“My dad had a saying that one of his goals in life was to leave the world a better place than we found it,” she said. “ In our lifetime, we’re going to use resources. Allen and I believe we have an obligation to future generations to conserve those resources.”

Gray water is new to Oklahoma, despite already being adopted and in use in 12 other states including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

While gray water is a form of reuse, the term “reuse” is normally meant to describe wastewater that has been treated at the water reclamation plant and is being reused for another purpose.

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