New bill allows for grey water reuse

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Imminent legislation in Israel will allow the use of treated grey water for irrigating gardens. It could save 137,000m3/d of potable supplies.

The Israeli government has approved a new law that will for the first time legalise the use of treated domestic grey water in Israel. Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz of the left-wing Meretz party initiated the bill, to which the government has given its backing. The Knesset is expected to pass the bill later this summer, and implementation is due to begin by the end of the year.

Up until now, Israel’s Health Ministry has barred the use of grey water for reuse, arguing that it would be too difficult to monitor adherence to minimum standards. “This is a breakthrough that will allow substantial savings,” Horowitz told GWI. He added that after months of negotiations, the Health Ministry has agreed to the first stage, which will allow public and private organisations to utilise grey water from showers, bathroom sinks and washing machines for use in gardens, as well as for flushing toilets. Grey water from toilets, kitchen sinks and dishwashers will be excluded, and the ministry has refused at this stage to sanction the reuse of grey water within households.

The final version of the bill is being worked out in the Knesset Environmental Affairs Committee. After final passage, the Health Ministry will be given 60 days to determine regulations for the use of grey water. The Israel Standards Institute is working on a local standard for equipment that will be approved for treating grey water. The Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) estimates that if a third of the national population installed equipment for the treatment and reuse of grey water, it would result in annual savings of 50 MCM.