U.S. Water News Online
ALBUQUERQUE -- A Santa Fe wastewater systems contractor has
filed a lawsuit challenging a new state law allowing residents to use
gray water on their property.
The lawsuit was filed by Link Summers in state district court in
``I tell people, 'Gray water is not safe,''' Summers said.
``Unfortunately, some of the things in there will make you sick. You
need to treat it before you use it.''
Gray water can contain grease, hair, detergent, cosmetics, dead
skin, food particles or small amounts of fecal matter, he said.
Untreated gray water can spread hepatitis, typhoid fever, dysentery
and other bacterial and viral diseases, Summers said.
The law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Bill
Richardson this year allows citizens to use up to 250 gallons of gray
water each day. Gray water is non-toilet water, typically water from
showers, dishwashers and laundry machines.
Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat who sponsored the bill,
said it was modeled after ordinances in Texas and Arizona as a way of
getting people to not use potable water for landscaping.
She questioned Summers' reasons for filing the lawsuit.
``He didn't want us to pass the law because it would cut into his
business,'' Stewart said. ``Link Summers was basically the only
person against this. He goes around making outrageous statements, but
it's certainly not been the experience of our neighboring states.''
The state Environment Department, a defendant in the lawsuit,
plans to stand by the new law, a spokesman said.
``We are currently enforcing all the laws and regulations that are
on the books, and that includes liquid waste regulations,'' said
department spokesman Jon Goldstein. ``Our job is to insure that the
health of the public is protected, and we take that job very
Summers, who sat on former Gov. Gary Johnson's task force on
liquid waste rules, said the new law puts the Environment Department
at odds with existing regulations.
He also said he believes that home sellers who use untreated gray
water without a permit could jeopardize their property values.
Stewart said she is open to tweaking the law if it can satisfy
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