The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials WE-Stand meeting started off with a change in the agenda to discuss blackwater reuse.
All of the green codes, including IAPMO WE-Stand, contain graywater and rainwater reuse. But none really address blackwater reuse. The only application of blackwater is to a private sewage disposal system.
It was initially thought, by many in attendance, that the discussion on blackwater would be brief. The initial motion was to reject the change. That seemed to imply that there was no support for adding any blackwater reuse requirements to the standard. As it turns out, the discussion was lengthy and protracted. Listening to the comments was fascinating. Everyone seemed to want some form of blackwater reuse in the standard, just not the proposed text.
The proposed blackwater requirements were performance oriented, without any provision for the level of treatment necessary. If you could meet the quality levels, that would be enough. As was pointed out, there were many excellent provisions, but too many missing requirements.
When the debate turned to whether tertiary or secondary treatment was necessary, it was pointed out that tertiary would be normal for reuse for flushing fixtures. However, secondary use may be all that is necessary for subsoil irrigation. I thought that even primary treatment may be all that is necessary for certain subsoil applications. Think in terms of seepage trenches for a septic system, although some would not consider that application a reuse.
The technical committee eventually voted to reject the proposed change on blackwater. However, immediately following the vote, the committee voted to form a task group to rework the blackwater proposed change. The task group will meet over the next year, with the goal being to have a public comment submitted during the current cycle so that the requirements appear in the 2021 edition of the WE-Stand.
The very next proposed change to be considered was stormwater reuse. Stormwater and rainwater are often interchanged; however, the standard clearly delineates the difference. Similar to the blackwater proposed change, the initial motion was to reject the change. Also similar to the blackwater change, the quality requirements were performance oriented, listing the quality that should be achieved. There were no specific requirements on the means of treating stormwater.
It was pointed out that the stormwater change included requirements for stormwater with 10% wastewater contribution and stormwater with 0.1% wastewater contribution. It was soon realized that the task group that created the change had used provisions from a municipal stormwater rule to develop the protocol. While municipal systems may be combined systems with wastewater, onsite stormwater systems would never have any wastewater contribution.
The technical committee voted to reject the change, however, they also asked that a task group be formed to address the issues and bring back a public comment next year.
Graywater, showerheads and cold-start faucet proposals rejected
After the blackwater and stormwater discussion, the agenda reverted back to the published order. The first change was on graywater. The graywater change did not receive the kind words like blackwater and stormwater. The change would have included kitchen waste in graywater. There was very little support for adding kitchen waste to the definition of graywater. The change was overwhelmingly rejected.
One of the changes that always has some interesting discussion is the size of a shower before you can have two showerheads. The current requirement is that the shower area must be at least 1,800 square inches before you are permitted two showerheads. During testimony it was stated that the 1,800-square-inch rule was based on removing a standard bathtub and installing a shower. A standard bathtub is 60 inches by 30 inches, hence 1,800 square inches.
The proposed change would have increased the area to 2,600 square inches. Without being as graphic as the written supporting statement, part of the justification was that you need this much area to keep two people from touching one another. I wasn’t the only one in the audience who thought, “Don’t you want to be able to touch the other person if you are showering with them?”
During the discussion of whether or not touching is good or bad, it was indicated that the section being proposed for revision was for a shower within a dwelling unit, not a shower in a commercial establishment. The comment was that in a residential setting, touching seemed to be implied when two people shower together. The proposed change was rejected, with the reason being that there was no justification for the revised area.
When the change on cold-start faucets was discussed, the proponent asked that the code change be rejected. This surprised many since it is unusual for a proponent to ask for rejection. The reason the proponent gave is because cold-start faucets do not save water, they save energy. He stated that saving energy is not within the scope of the standard.
Everyone started to look up the purpose of the standard, which reads, in part, “The purpose of this standard is to provide minimum requirements to optimize water-use practices attributed to the built environment while maintaining protection of public health, safety and welfare.” There was no mention of saving energy.
Even though the proponent asked for a rejection, there was testimony on whether an energy-saving provision should be included in the standard. Many thought that the change was appropriate, even without water savings. It was finally determined that, before an energy saving change could be accepted, the scope of the standard would have to be revised. The proposed change was rejected.
Following the meeting, the technical committee formally votes electronically on each proposed change. The results of the voting will be announced in June. Once the results are published as the Report on Proposals (ROP), the public comment period will be open. The ROP and electronic public comments form will be available on the IAPMO website.