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 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource
Water Resources » Onsite Water Reuse

Water Resources

Onsite Water Reuse

For some water applications, such as toilet flushing and irrigation, it is unnecessary to use drinking water. For these applications, using recycled water or reusing water onsite is a viable option. Some municipalities offer recycled water, which is pumped in through a separate delivery system with pipes and valves colored purple and clearly marked "Caution Reclaimed Water-Do Not Drink". This is a good option for schools to consider for irrigation systems and toilets when it is available.

Another option to consider for the reduction of sewage production as well as potable water consumption is to install a graywater system, in which water from the bathroom sinks, cloth washers, and showers is collected and used for subsurface irrigation.

Rainwater is also a valuable water resource. Collecting rainwater from a school's roof and storing it, and then using the water when no rain is available for irrigation can reduce potable water use and stormwater runoff.

Further Subtopics

Graywater Systems
Rainwater Catchment Systems

2 Pictures of large-scale and small-scale wastewater treatment processes.  The large-scale picture caption states, 'Arcata, CA.  A diverse community whose resourcefulness has demonstrated that a constructed wetland system can be a cost-efficient and environmentally sound wastewater treatment solution.  Stimulate and encourage this kind of sound environmental design in your community.'  The small-scale picture caption states, 'For practical low-scale purposes of water treatment on a school campus, onsite wastewater can be provided by means of a product similar to a 'Living Machine'.  Pictured above, these products have been designed and constructed to utilize the natural processes to purify waste water.  This technology is an excellent teaching tool.'  Both photos excerpted with permission from CHPS; the small-scale photo coutesy of Living Machines, Inc.

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Volume 2: Site Planning Section, Guideline SP15: Onsite Waste Water Treatment & Other Equipment and Systems Section, Guideline OS4: Gray Water Systems) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

California Department of Health Services - Recycled Water Unit
Resource documents and guidelines for the purpose of onsite water recycling.

California Department of Water Resources (DWR) - Water Recycling and Desalinization Program
DWR's comprehensive recycled water website.

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