Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recycling water

The article I chose to present is “From Toilets to Tap”. This article describes how Singapore is choosing to recycle waste water to use for drinking, industrial, and agricultural purposes. Waste water comes mostly from water used in showers, sinks, washers, and just a small portion comes from toilets. Singapore has had to import water from Malaysia to support themselves, however they were very worried about how they would get their drinking water if their ties to their water supplying countries were severed. They decided to look for another means to get water without depending on other countries. One method they used was desalination, which is to purify sea water. However this was pretty costly. Another method they decided to use was recycling waste water. The process of recycling waste water was a lot cheaper than purifying sea water.

Using this process Singapore introduced a small portion of recycled waste water at first. Now they have bumped up the portion of waste water to supply 1/3 of their daily water needs. Some areas in the US are also using recycled waste water. Drinking water Northern VA is about 5% recycled waste water and 1/5 of drinking water in Orange County California is recycled waste water. California chose to use recycled waste water to help solve drought and water shortage problems without having to rely on other states for their water. This process of recycling waste water began in the 1970s and so far there have not been any negative outcomes from using recycled waste water.

Despite the major benefits of recycling waste water, a lot of countries can’t get over the “yuck” factor, even though only about 10% of the recycled water comes from toilets. A pioneer in waste water filtering technology claim that recycled waste water is cleaner than store bought water due to more strict rules and testing. Australia thought about implementing recycled waste water, but the plans fell through because the general public couldn’t get over the “yuck” factor. However as drinking water becomes limited, prices for the available drinking water will rise. The director of the Urban Water Research Center even goes to say “Water is going to be the oil of the 21st century.” In order to solve the problem of limited drinking water, many countries might have to recycle waste water.

Many people in California and Northern Virginia probably don’t even know that they are drinking/using recycled waste water and it doesn’t seem like it is doing any harm. The process seems very safe and thorough. With drinking water becoming scarcer, I think it would help to implement it now to extend the time and save the amount of drinking water we have available. This would also offset the increase in price that has been predicted in the future. I think this is a good idea and should be implemented throughout the US.
--Carrie Moore


  1. I read similar article about water/waste water. It seems that soon we won't have a choice because drinking water is becoming scarce. Here there are some companies that are investing in technology to "re use" waste water for drinking and irrigation and the waste products for bio fuel.-Nia G

  2. I think this is a great idea. As long as the water is clean and safe to use, there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to drink it. Water shortages will become a very real problem in the future, and any technology that can conserve or reuse water is valuable. If it can be produced cheap enough, this may eventually become a solution to many areas of the world without a steady supply of clean drinking water.
    Andrew Blair

  3. Really, it's very important topic water recycling. If it's possible to recycling the water, really very good.