Monday, April 21, 2014

Toilet to Tap?

     Residents of California are experiencing a record setting drought, the worst in 500 years, “so bad it can clearly be seen from space,” (Resnick 2014). This has caused many problems, for residents and especially farmers. The most current proposition is: toilet water. Recycled water has been used in California before, as Orange County recycles some water and puts it back into aquifers (Sangree 2014). Orange County is one of the only places in California able to use recycled wastewater. Past attempts at implementing a wastewater recycling program to make said water potable, once in 1997 and then again in 2000, have been shut down due to public outcry (Resnick 2014). People can’t get past the “yuck factor,” (Sangree 2014). The main problem people have with drinking recycled wastewater is psychological (Resnick 2014). But the benefits of using this system would far outweigh any psychological concerns.
    Over “a billion gallons of treated wastewater are pumped into the Pacific Ocean each year,” (Sangree 2014). In the midst of a severe drought, Californians should start warming to the idea of using recycled wastewater for more than irrigation, and should realize the necessity of using it as drinking water. Particularly with climate change and the risk of droughts persisting, California should seriously put more effort into treating their water to make it potable. Regardless of the “yuck factor,” it remains true that with the amount of treatment the wastewater would go through, the treated water would be “on par with distilled water,” (Sangree 2014).
     Some investments have recently been made to start getting more recycled water into the California water supply (Resnick 2014). The city of Escondido has also approved a plan of $285 million to “turn all of its sewage into irrigation water over the next 15 years,” (Resnick 2014).
--Claire Fremuth

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