LONG BEACH — Laundry day has taken on a whole new meaning in Long Beach as the city unveiled its latest water conservation project Tuesday - Laundry to Landscape.

According to city officials, the program will allow residents to conserve resources by using water from their washing machines, also known as graywater, for backyard irrigation systems for trees, shrubs and gardens.

In March, the City Council approved the program, which was co-sponsored by council members James Johnson, Patrick O'Donnell and Suja Lowenthal.

"Today, Long Beach leads the way by being one of the first cities to test this innovative way to conserve scarce water," said Johnson. "By reusing water on site, graywater has the potential to both save water and money for Long Beach residents."

The program is a partnership between the Long Beach Water Department, which is also funding the project, and the Office of Sustainability.

"Long Beach has placed itself at the forefront of the water conservation movement. Our residents, our customers have enthusiastically answered our calls to minimize or eliminate all of the wasteful and inefficient ... water use habits," said Frank Clark, vice president of the Long Beach Water Department Board of Commissioners. "During the period of four years the city has achieved and attained a

17 percent reduction in citywide water use."

Better use of water prepares the city for the future, Johnson said.


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"Long Beach, like all Southern California cities, will continue to face water scarcity over the long run and today. What we're saying as a community is we're going to plan for that long run," Johnson said. "We need to use the water we already have in smarter ways instead of discarding it into our sewers, and that's what this is all about."

The program is open to single-family homeowners with suitable properties. Of the residents who submit applications, four in each of the nine council districts will be selected to receive a free installation initially under the pilot program.

Graywater irrigation systems are safe for watering most vegetable gardens, except for root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots. It is not recommended for watering lawns.

"Conventional wisdom and common sense ideas are essential when adopting progressive improvement," said Mayor Bob Foster. "The 'Laundry to Landscape' program helps raise awareness throughout the community, change attitudes and encourage greater participation in sustainability efforts."

"We believe that this program is simple in concept and we, through our efforts, hope to prove that it's simple in implementation as well," said Larry Rich, of the Office of Sustainability.

Here's how it will work: A converter will be installed to the rear of a closed washing machine, which will either send the water to the sewer, where it currently goes, or directly to the landscape.

"Our team of field workers at Sustainability, with the help of a professional plumber, will install a below-ground drip irrigation system that will have eight to 12 points where the water will be distributed in the backyard," said Rich.

The cost of the system is estimated to be about $750 each, he said.

"Through these 36 installations we will do across the city, we're going to test that theory about the simplicity of these installations and the cost and savings involved," Rich said.

Additional benefits will include reduced consumption of potable water, reduced load on the city's sewage infrastructure and the replenishment of natural groundwater sources, he said.

"This is a really good day for the city of Long Beach and I think the beginning of a better day for all of Southern California," said Mayor Bob Foster. "This is a continuing program that we have to use water more wisely, to make it go a lot longer. ... A very good use of the water will save a lot of water for other purposes and it will demonstrate that you can make conservation go even further in Long Beach."

pam.hale@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1476.



Laundry to Landscape

What: Pilot program to use household wastewater from laundry to irrigate trees, shrubs and gardens.

Who can participate: Single-family homeowners are eligible to apply. From the applications received, four residences from each of the nine City Council districts will be selected. A licensed plumber will then install the system in the 36 homes.

How: To apply, call 562-570-6281 or visit www.sustainablelb.com.