Recode’s Collaborative Work with IAPMO

IAPMO stands for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. It’s a plumbing and mechanical industry group whose codes have been adopted by jurisdictions worldwide.

Urine Diversion and Composting Toilet Model Codes

Recode’s team created a site-built composting toilet code with options for urine diversion for IAPMO’s 2015 Green Supplement to the Uniform Plumbing Code and IAPMO’s National Standard for water efficiency and sanitation. This was adopted by them in 2018. Learn more or download those standards from our website.

2019 Draft Model Codes

IAPMO 2019 model codes are still in draft format and open for public comment online. Recode’s Executive Director Pat Lando participated on 4 different committees to help shape the codes:

  • Non-Traditional Toilets Task Group (chair)
  • Alternate Water Sources Group
  • Water Efficiency and Conservation Group
  • Water Supply System Design Committees 

During the course of this work, Recode promoted the idea of Choosing Better Terms for Water Re-Use. Using colors to refer to an implied quality of water (e.g. “blackwater”, “graywater”, etc.) has been confusing for those involved in permitting such systems. And, the colors tend to perpetuate racism, and in particular, anti-blackness (i.e. “Blackwater” is considered the most polluted. “Brown water” is less so. “Yellow water” is considered less polluted than “brown water”. And, “white water” is considered drinking water by the EPA).

Both of these situations are threats to public health, so Recode started a letter-writing campaign with our partners. We proposed to IAPMO that, as they considered adopting the risk-based framework for onsite non-potable water systems, that they replace the term “blackwater” with some other well-defined term.

Ultimately, IAPMO hasn’t adopted the risk-based framework yet, but our letter-writing campaign sparked an important conversation during the public review of the latest codes. Leadership at IAPMO agreed that the words we choose and how they’re defined is a critical issue. Together, we all wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the topic, during an open comment period for the EPA’s Water Reuse Action Plan. They discussed this with partners in the Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition and a 13 of 17 partners signed on to the letter, elevating this discussion to a national stage.