The Norman Transcript


April 22, 2014

City home first to include gray water system



Gray water is not treated. It never enters the wastewater stream. It’s the water that goes down the drain in bathroom sinks, showers and bathtubs, as well as the family washing machine, and is piped into a holding tank and reserved for specified limited use.

Because toilets and the kitchen sink are prohibited as sources of gray water use, separate lines must be run.

Builder Rod Epperson of Epperson Construction Inc. is working on the Ahlert house. He said black water goes straight from the toilet or kitchen sink to the traditional sewer system. Gray water lines take water from a shower or bathroom vanity, for example, to a special tank installed in the home.

That means an extra set of lines, the cost of extra plumbing and the expense of the storage tank, but over time, savings on the water bill should make the investment worthwhile.

Gray water use is limited to 250 gallons per day by state and city law. A typical top load washing machine uses up to 40 gallons per load. At 250 gallons per day, that would equate to six loads per day of water, Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said.

Dishwashers and the kitchen sink are not allowed as a gray water source because of the food and bacteria. The gray water tank holds 500 gallons in storage.

The floats will cut off if the Ahlerts hit the 250-per-day limit set by law.

“Probably 40 percent of your water could be used for irrigation,” Epperson said.

Jim Frazier installed the gray water tank. He is licensed with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

“The cost (of water) is more than what we pay for it,” Frazier said. “We’ve taken so much for granted in the Southern states.”

In his professional life, Allen Ahlert is the director of Manufacturing Engineering at Hitachi and accepted the Norman Chamber of Commerce Greenovation award for large businesses on Hitachi’s behalf last week. Hitachi was honored for building an outdoor environmental classroom at Kennedy Elementary School.

The Ahlerts’ new home also will include geothermal heat and air and thermadeck roof decking.


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