“Toilet to tap” is such an unfortunate phrase, isn’t it? Hate to break it to you, but the supposed “yuck factor” of drinking recycled wastewater is actually fairly over-exaggerated. In fact, if you’ve ever lived on a coast or downstream from a river, you’ve probably consumed water that was at one point in time — to put it frankly — someone’s pee.
In states desperately trying to conserve water, like drought-ridden California, “toilet to tap” might be about to become the new norm because, quite honestly, it’s just common sense. Recycling wastewater is already going strong in Orange County, The New York Times reports:
Water spilled out of a spigot, sparklingly clear, into a plastic cup. Just 45 minutes earlier, it was effluent, piped over from Orange County’s wastewater treatment plant next door. At a specialized plant, it then went through several stages of purification that left it cleaner than anything that flows out of a home faucet or comes in a brand-name bottle.
“It’s stripped down to the H, 2 and O,” said Mike Markus, the general manager of the county water district. He was not exaggerating. Without the minerals that give most cities’ supply a distinctive flavor, this water tastes of nothing.
Orange County isn’t alone in its efforts to recycle effluent: San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Clara are all considering similar projects right now, too. And water reuse is already taking place across the country. Even Disneyland’s drinking fountains have used recycled sewage water, and no, that’s not where the measles came from.
Next time someone tries to argue that recycled sewage water is not a viable solution for parched communities, tell them about Orange County. Or just take a note out of Designated Orange County Spokesprincess Marissa Cooper’s book, and respond thusly: