Gray Water

Stanley the Striped Bass Showering Gray Water Discharged from Boats

Gray water (also spelled grey water and graywater) is used water that drains from washers, showers, and sinks after being used for household purposes. When discharged directly into the water without treatment, gray water can harm aquatic life and the health of swimmers because it may contain soaps and cleaning products that contain chemicals.

Gray water is often rich in phosphates that pollute the water and encourage the growth of unwanted algae. Even bio-degradable soaps are harmful when they first enter the water in concentrated form; it takes time for them to break down to safe levels. The tips below will help you protect our local Delta waterways and oceans.

Minimize Gray Water Discharge

  • It is illegal to discharge gray water into a federally designated No Discharge Zone.
  • Use shore-side facilities for laundry, showers and dish washing whenever possible.
  • For shorter trips, bring your dirty dishes home to wash.
  • Avoid using soaps while on the water.
  • Limit the amount of water that you use in your boat sinks and showers.
  • Use the smallest amount of a cleaning product to get the job done while on the water.
  • Check product labels and avoid cleaners with warning phrases such as avoid eye and skin contact, wear gloves during use, vapor harmful, keep area ventilated during use, and/or irritates respiratory tract. These products are more likely to harm you and the environment.
  • Never use bleach.
  • Use natural and alternative cleaners. Baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar can all perform as well as commercial cleaning products without the harmful byproducts. Learn about recipes for alternatives to traditional cleaning products.