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Can I install a grey water recycling system in French home?

Partner article: We look at the rules for wastewater systems in your home. 

Greywater recycling systems relate to wastewater from washing machines, showers etc Pic: Bself / Shutterstock

Reader Question: I own a property in Var and am researching options for domestic grey-water recycling. I am aware of restrictions in place for use of rainwater, but cannot find any guidance on installation of grey water systems. Can you advise?

Sarah Bright-Thomas from Bright Avocats answers a reader query.

Grey-water recycling (treating and reusing wastewater from non-toilet plumbing systems such as washing machines and showers) has been topical – but government initiatives have so far focused on easing rules for local councils only.

French health authority Anses guidance dates from 2015 and suggests a strict framework for such use, 

For example, it is only suitable for areas hit by water shortages. It adds that everyone in the home must be informed of the risks and health assessments must be done.

Rules can change on case by case basis

As often happens in France what the rules say and how they are implemented can vary. 

In Charente, for example, a number of newly built ‘off-grid’ houses have approved grey-water systems, usually using reed beds or other vegetable filter systems.

Read more: Reed bed sewage system can replace a septic tank in your French garden

Getting official approval to change existing plumbing systems might not be so easy, but there is at least one firm specialising in domestic plant filter systems to replace septic tanks. 

Always check the legality of any system before committing, and contact your local mairie about your plans.

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