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Reusing household water to flush toilets may get green light in France

A new law is expected to relax rules on greywater use as government tries to combat effects of drought

Water from showers or washing machines could be reused Pic: Natalia Kokhanova / Shutterstock

Regulatory restrictions on reusing water from showers or washing machines to flush toilets could be relaxed by the end of the year, according to a leaked government plan.

The national health and safety agency (Anses) currently only authorises the use of greywater in the home for “environments affected by water shortages”. 

It must be treated before being used for three potential purposes: flushing toilets, watering green areas (excluding vegetable gardens), and washing certain outdoor surfaces.

However, a new decree, expected before the end of the year, could see the rules relaxed as part of government efforts to combat water shortages, according to documents obtained by France Inter.

Read more: French golf clubs’ plea to relax rules on reusing wastewater

France is behind Spain and Italy 

Another decree, published at the end of August, has already made it easier for communes and businesses to reuse wastewater, for example, to water green spaces and clean roads, once it has been treated.

The aim is to reuse 10% of treated wastewater in France by 2030. 

Only 1% is currently reused, well below that of other EU countries such as Spain and Italy.

Read more: France to support industrial sites in bid to hit water saving target

As such, the application process to reuse wastewater has been simplified and certificates will no longer be limited to five years, or to one department per certificate.

The decree also set out the conditions for using rainwater for non-domestic purposes. 

It is now “possible to use it without a permit procedure” except in residential premises, social, education and health establishments.

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