Laura Allen, Cofounder, Greywater Action


Laura is a founding member of Greywater Action and has spent a decade exploring low-tech, urban sustainable water solutions. She has a B.A. in Environmental Science, a teaching credential, and a masters in education from New College of California. She is a co-editor of the anthology Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground (Soft Skull, 2007), which brings together an analysis of water’s history with the active fight for its future.

Laura leads classes and workshops on the urban ecological sanitation technologies of rainwater harvesting, greywater reuse, and composting toilets. She also works with the Greywater Alliance to help remove institutional barriers to sustainable water use.

In 1999, Laura Allen and Cleo Woelfle-Erskine built a greywater system in their backyard out of concern for their household water use. Their backgrounds in environmental science and permaculture design sparked their interest in water reuse and wastewater treatment using constructed wetlands.

They built several prototypes, then self-published a ‘zine called The Guerrillas Greywater Girls Guide to Water, that combined strategies for conserving and reusing household water with stories of their explorations of California’s water infrastructure. Over the next few years, they taught hands-on workshops in community venues, continued researching and fine-tuning small-scale urban greywater systems, and edited an anthology on strategies for water sustainability, from small-scale eco-technologies to global grassroots political movements.

Since 2007, Greywater Action has brought these ideas to a wider audience through conferences, collaborations, and media coverage. Christina Bertea and Andrea Lara, both plumbers by trade, joined, to lead hands-on workshops. The group expanded and refined the range of workshops offered, and created educational displays for public events.

In 2009 Greywater Action joined with a water organization called “A Single Drop,” to connect international clean water work with U.S. hands-on water conservation strategies (workshops on greywater reuse, rainwater harvesting, and composting toilet construction). A Single Drop is the fiscal sponsor of Greywater Action.