Are Americans Ready to Start Drinking Their (Treated) Toilet Water?
As the American Southwest reels from one of the worst droughts on record, some parched communities are opting for a once-unthinkable conservation measure: extracting drinking water from urine and other liquid waste. The small Texas city of Big Spring is the latest to take the plunge, announcing that late next year it will begin adding 2 million gallons of recycled water daily to the drinking supply. San Diego recently began a pilot project of its own, hoping to make believers of the one-third of its population who oppose or are unsure about the technique.
While so-called toilet-to-tap ventures certainly sound unpleasant, skeptical citizens should take heed of the rigorous filtration process that makes recycled wastewater as safe to drink as conventional tap water. “Water treatment involves many steps between commode and faucet,” says Mike Markus, an environmental engineer at the Orange County Water District in California, which has been processing liquid sewage into drinking water since 2008.