This article is from Tiger Newspaper’s September 2015 issue
By Cole Cahill
There is a sign that reads “Lawn and gardens maintained exclusively with grey water” in front of a house on Oxley Street here in South Pasadena. It advertises a number to call for questions and concerns regarding gray water.
On the other end of that line is Norbert Rozanski, an SPHS alumnus who has been in the know about gray water and the water crisis in California years before it was trending.
Gray water is the process of collecting and reusing water from non-harmful sources such as showers, washing machines, and almost anything besides dish or toilet water. This water is repurposed for lawns, washing cars, filling up pools, and more.
By this point, it would be safe to assume that the vast majority of Californians are aware of the severe drought our state faces. The larger Los Angeles Area has experienced water cutbacks, introduced evaporation-preventing balls into its reservoirs, and been barraged with roadside reminders to cut back on water usage. However, even the best efforts at conservation are playing a small role in the big picture of the water shortage.
Rozanski has owned a gray water system in his home for over a decade, and boasts degrees in engineering from UCLA and the University of Berlin. He began his career developing more efficient coatings for reservoirs, and has been working with gray water since the early 1990s. He now installs gray water systems and is an expert in water usage in California.
“If all of us just saved our laundry water, the LA River would be filled up to the brim completely, and we could water everything,” Rozanski said.
According to Rozanski, gray water is not the only step that needs to be taken to combat the drought.
“Even if it rained two, three, four months, it’s not going to solve the drought, it’s only going to be a temporary fix. Then we would go right back to the same cycle we had before. Gray water is still only just a stepping stone to extend the bandaid required to supply a city [with water] which always gets more people.”
Although this recycling system saves huge amounts of water, it is not without its drawbacks. When widely used, it can diminish sewage flow; if collected improperly it can be contaminated, and in many cases it cannot be stored for over 24 hours.
This gray water movement spearheaded by Rozanski is impressive on a small scale, but in the long run, not completely effective. In order for conditions to truly improve, changes must be made on a larger scale through legislature, conservation projects, and industrial adjustments.