Newsletter: War and Ecological Design, Greywater Regulation Revolution
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Dear Ecological living enthusiasts:
I generally try to keep politics corralled in the Activism links section of the Oasis web site.
However, war on the scale that is happening at this moment is impossible for me to ignore as an ecological designer.
Please take a moment to consider the connection between lifestyle and the current resource wars, followed by a small bright point of good news from New Mexico.
"Look to your posessions for the seeds of war."
-- John Woolman, 17th C. Quaker mystic
Gaining control of the rest of the worlds key resources, by force if necessary, is the only way to keep American levels of consumption and profit growing. Captains of American industry and government are clear on this. In fact, they have staked their personal economic fortunes on this effort to an alarming degree.
As long as the world view of the people in power and much of the public is that more extravagant consumption equates with greater happiness, it will be difficult to avoid war.
Radical means "root." Living better with less is the most radical response to the root causes of the current resource wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Columbia, as well as our efforts to incite the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Venezuela.
Oasis Design's purpose is to inspire people to find happiness in harmony with nature and others, as well as providing information on the mechanics of how to live better with less. The Oasis Design site is full of inspiration and designs, as well as links to lots of other good sites. In particular, our Eco Design Principles-article booklet covers the roots of ecological design (much of this material is now available free online at the Eco Design Principles-article page. It is also newly available in hard copy form and wholesale).
Personal lifestyle transformation does not, however, address the short term emergency of the administration's violent resource grab. For that, we need...
For an overview of the motivations behind the Iraq war, see It's the $10,000,000,000,000, stupid! an economic analysis of the war with Iraq.
For a wealth of information and action resources, see our Activism page.
And now for a bit of good news:
New Mexico has just passed a rational greywater law in the Arizona model.
As of March 11th 2003 you can install a legal greywater system with out applying for a permit.
If your system meets a short list of reasonable requirements, it is permissible under one blanket permit for the whole state. Neither you nor the regulators need take any further action.
This is a welcome case of government regulations becoming more reasonable, rather than less. If you live in another state, you can hope that with Arizona's lead, New Mexico's affirmation, and Texas and Louisiana interested, this welcome trend will reach you some day.
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to have played a small role in this successful effort (see New Mexico Greywater Law Expedition, November 2002 newsletter).
For more info on this and other greywater laws see the Greywater policy center.
The impact of the Arizona/ New Mexico rational greywater regulations could be far-reaching. This is a big enough market that it could provide a foothold for greywater businesses and system innovation.
The key to actualizing the benefits of this new regulatory trend is education of the public, contractors and plumbers. We're working with local activists on education strategies.
To get an idea of the significance of this change, imagine that you are building a new house, your family practices resource conservation, and you want to include a greywater system to water your garden.
Under the California or Uniform Plumbing Code requirements,
- 90% of the system options are unavailable
- Your only options are sand filter to subsurface drip irrigation, or a branched drain to subsurface infiltration galleys (you could do a $20,000 combined wastewater sand filter but this is not technically a greywater system).
- Your system would cost one to several thousand dollars and be a big, time consuming headache to get through the permitting process
- The better you attempt to fit the system to your actual needs, the bigger the permitting headache. The requirements are for a system so overbuilt that it will last forever for a worst case water hog household.
In Arizona or New Mexico,
- You could do 90% of the systems described in Oasis greywater-book
- You could do a branched drain greywater system with clear discharge outlets into mulch basinsby far the best performing simple system I know of
- You don't need to apply for a permit at all
- You can fit the system to your actual needs and loads
- It would take a quarter of the time to accomplish, and cost even lesswell done do it yourself systems with scrounged parts that cost nothing are legal.