Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Action in Residential Graywater Recycling

Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


This study explores the social dimensions of local climate adaptive policies through an Arizona policy, the 2010 Residential Gray Water Ordinance (RGWO). An ecological model of behavior is used as a framework for analyzing the complex relationship between sustainably focused policy initiatives and their success or failure at the individual level. Water cycle fluctuation will be significantly impacted by global climate change in upcoming decades and additional demand for potable water will increase due to growing urban populations. The reuse of residential gray water is an underutilized option for reducing potable water use, municipal energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions, with seemingly little negative impact on public health. The RGWO is a policy passed in Tucson, Arizona, requiring new single family and duplex housing be built with separate graywater plumbing to enable graywater recycling for irrigation. Local adaptations of such policies often depend on a variety of unforeseen factors and few studies have considered the role architects, activists, builders, and citizens play in the success of local climate adaptive initiatives. Data from in-depth guided interviews was used to develop insight into how different stakeholders can impact policy implementation. Eight participants were interviewed through a snowball sampling of local graywater installation professionals, educators, activists and researchers. Data from interviews was transcribed, coded, analyzed for themes presented within an ecological framework. The aim of this paper is to offer new perspectives on integrating sustainably focused policies by evaluating social and political barriers encountered at multiple levels through an ecological model: individual, interpersonal, organizational, community and policy levels.


Graywater Building ordinance Implementation Barriers Water conservation Qualitative methods 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human-Environment Relations, Department of Design and Environmental AnalysisCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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