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I’m interested in installing a simple greywater system (Plumbing Code Section 1602.1.2) in a single-family 3 bedroom 2 bath residence in Alameda County.  It’s in an unincorporated area, and am having difficulty getting a permit for a simple system – the County is requiring a “complex system” (Plumbing Code Section 1602.1.3).  It seems odd that I’m being told to install a system with far more capacity than needed.  Does anyone have any experience dealing with the building permit process in Alameda County?

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I don’t know of any permits in unincorporated Alameda County.

If you have a 3 bedroom home, that would be considered to have 4 occupants by the code, producing 25 gpcd..

4 x 25 gpcd = 100 gallon/day, so you should be required to size and build the system based on that estimate, which is a simple system according to the code, like you said.

You could use the City of Oakland’s permit application, which is in Alameda County, as an example. (Fill it out and go in to see what they say.) If the county is not cooperative and is asking you to design for a complex system I would ask to talk to the building official. There is no good reason for the permitting office to ask you to build an over built system when the code already has a large safety margin/buffer and will most likely already require you to build a bigger than necessary system.

Here is the city’s plan and checklist.  Note that this plan was created for a previous version of the code, so make sure you’re using the current one (there aren’t any significant differences, but the chart numbers have changed).

city-of-oakland-Graywater Permit Plan and Checklist

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