Greywater Without Guilt

On Feb 18, the Community House was flooded with questions from a packed gathering of Topanga residents anxious to learn about the latest developments in greywater techniques, regulations, and environmental impact. Ben Allanoff, chairman of the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee, had arranged for Laura Allen from Greywater Guerrillas to bring her presentation to our community. The subject of greywater is far more nuanced than may appear. It is a natural springboard for exploring many of the ancillary issues surrounding water usage—septic, catchment, composting toilets, and, of course, conservation. Greywater is a resource for saving money, watering gardens, replenishing the aquifer, prolonging the life of your septic system, adding beauty and nutrients to your garden, and more. Plus, it’s much simpler to use than you might think—no filter required.

Everyone of the more than 100 people seemed to already disperse greywater in various levels of  (non)sophistication on their properties. Laura showed how we can make lush, verdant oases with that effulgent. There are nifty new PVC splitters that allow many individual plants/areas to be nourished instead of creating a smelly bog in one place. Valves (that you won’t find in the box stores) direct the not-really-wastewater to desired locations.  Laura offered solutions for slopes, flats, and everything between. We now have no excuses for not utilizing the nutrient-rich greywater that can create vibrant splashes of color in your landscaping scene, nourish your vegetable garden and fruit trees, attract all species of wildlife and birds, reduce tinder for fire, and, importantly, lengthen the life of existing septic systems.

Maintaining a healthy biosphere that transforms pathogens before they “greet the creek” is an essential duty of every property owner (horseowners included). Keeping a viable septic system is not only environmentally responsible, but financially friendly. Dick Sherman of Topanga Underground, Inc., forewarned everyone of the stringent regulations, already passed by the legislature (AB885), and coming to a septic field/pit near you … soon. Though broadsided by the economic crisis, people can still prepare for the water crisis: the price of water will continue to rise no matter how much rain falls in our beloved canyon.

In addition to promoting water conservation, the Watershed Committee also promotes the use of products that are less harmful to the environment. For example, they showed Quintox, a benign Vitamin D bait which kills (dehydrates) gophers/rats/mice instead of the commonly used strychnine which persists in the dead animal. We were told that the number one cause of death among  predator mammals in the Santa Monica Mountains is secondary poisoning because they are eating toxic carcasses. Visit and  Web sites and learn how you can greywater without guilt and support a healthy biosphere in Topanga.