More Coloradans would be allowed to use graywater systems under bill in state legislature

A bill that would allow graywater systems to be included in new homes throughout Colorado received rare unanimous approval from the Colorado House on Friday.

Graywater is made up of water that has been used a single time from appliances like laundry machines, baths or sinks and can be used again for non-drinking purposes like toilet flushes and irrigation. Conservationists point to graywater uses as a way to cut down on water consumption as the drought in the West has deepened in recent years. 

House Bill 1362 has bipartisan support and is sponsored by Rep. Meghan Lukens, D-Steamboat Springs, and Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, Sen. Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, and Sen. Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa. 

Currently, local governments are permitted to opt into graywater programs. Under the bill, the whole state would be automatically allowed to include graywater systems in new constructions, but local governments could choose to opt their community out.

“We believe that Colorado is moving too slowly and our water needs are too urgent,” Lukens said. 

Since the state gave initial approval for local governments to opt into graywater programs in 2013, only six jurisdictions have chosen to do so including Pitkin County, Grand Junction, Denver, Castle Rock, Fort Collins, Broomfield and Golden.

If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, the bill would go into effect at the start of 2026. 

Graywater is mentioned in the Colorado Water Plan as a possible tool for the state to meet current and future water needs. It notes there are challenges with the technology, including the effort of retrofitting existing buildings with the systems.  

It also includes a “general lack of interest on the part of local governments to enact local graywater ordinances,” a “lack of interest from developers” and “concerns that property owners could be resistant to operating and maintaining a graywater system within their residences” as challenges.

The bill initially included a tax credit that would have reimbursed taxpayers for a portion of the cost of the installation, but an amendment during its committee hearing removed that provision. 

The sponsors hope the bill can also strengthen the state’s negotiating position with other states. 

“Colorado is encouraging and expecting advanced water conservation measures to address climate change impacts and water scarcity,” Lukens said.

Graywater use is permitted in at least 20 states including Colorado, according to the Graywater Action group. 

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