Recycled drinking water?

By | February 15, 2008
Most of you are aware of the current severe drought situation in southeastern US. A lot of people in the southwestern US have been experiencing the drought for several years now. Some of these areas have their groundwater and surface water resources on the verge of exhaustion. In a recent study, researchers from Sand Diego have calculated that Lake Mead, which impounds the Colorado River near Las Vegas and supplies drinking water to most of Arizona and Nevada, could go dry in 13 years if the current climate change trend and indiscriminate use of water continues. Incidentally, these are some of the fastest growing regions in the US as well.When all fresh drinking water runs out, what will we turn to? There are already plans afoot to turn your own toilet waste into drinking water! Orange county in California approved a plan last year to recycle sewage into drinking water (link, link). It’s not as bad as it sounds – this recycled water may be fairly safe to drink. Eventually, we’ll face similar shortages of fresh water right here in in our neighborhood (think Atlanta). Will you be prepared to drink out of your toilet (not literally)? What do you think will lead to such shortages? Can we learn any lessons from the problems in the Southwest?

14 thoughts on “Recycled drinking water?

  1. murraydonna

    The lesson to be learned is that nothing lasts forever; we need to plan ahead and think about our future.

    As far as drinking out of the our toilets go, our rivers, oceans, and lakes are toilets to many more creatures than we’d like to think. We’re already drinking from the world’s toilet! Let’s do it!

  2. Hampton

    I agree. Today, there are so many ways that water is being used and eventually we could run out of water. People need to look into the future without any water and think what we are going to without water.

    It might sound wrong and unsanitary to drink out of the toilet, but what happens if we have too?

  3. Kathryn

    I mean, it’s obviously important that humans need to understand the importance of sustainability. Unfortunately this concept hasn’t registered with humans very well in the past and apparently it still isn’t. I agree with the previous comment from Donna. If we have to drink from our own toilets, then so be it. like she said.. we are already drinking from the planets large toilet. The technology and purification process of sewage treatment is very advanced, but since epa standards are lower than they should be, right now it wouldn’t be the cleanest thing in the world to drink. hopefully we won’t have to resort to that, but if so… i guess its possible.

  4. Chelsea

    This problem should be a definite eye opener and should get us thinking about what we can do to conserve.
    Recycled toilet water sounds gross but it could eventually come down to that.

  5. Emily

    I think that California is wise to have devised a way to purify their wastewater. This appears to be more of a sound option than saltwater desalination.

  6. Kristen

    This idea sounds really disgusting at first, but after thinking about it, I realized that with the advanced technologies we have in water filtration and purification today, this may be a good way to start conserving water now, and eventually many regions in the US may have to use this idea as a last resort if they do not conserve water in other ways.

  7. Hampton

    Obviously, they are not going to let people drink the water straight out of the toilet. So, would this lack of fresh water possibly cause more water sanitation plants which would therefore cost more money? I am not sure but it seems like it would.

  8. kitty

    This article really hits close to home. I’m from Atlanta and we have extreme laws in effect over the drought that is happening. We aren’t allowed do use any kind of water other than for house hold uses. People have the whole mentality of “it’ll never happen to me” but it is and it’s happening now. I don’t think people are going to understand the severity of it until we hit extreme drought all over the country and there’s nothing we can do about it.

  9. Mike McLaughlin

    I agree that there are substances that are nonrenewable, but i don’t believe water is one of them. Over the past couple of decades, scientists have found ways to reuse water by cleaning and filtering it. I mean, imagine what they can do in the next 20 years.. or 50 or 100.

  10. Logan

    I posted this same point under another article:

    Studies show that people living in 3rd world countries with contaminated water have much better immune systems than those like us with “pure” drinking water. They have fewer cases of hepatitis and other diseases due to exposure to minute amounts of fecal matter. Maybe what we call waste is really a future medicine.

  11. ccstout

    Recycling toilet does sound gross and the name “Toilet-to-tap program” really does not help either. But cities are running out of water, in Atlanta residents are monitered for the amount of water they use each month, if they use more water than they are supposed to they receive fines in their water bill. The water problem is a major issue we are currently facing and something needs to be done. We are already drinking water from sources that acts as a toilet to many animals we need to move forward and start this program in the long run it will help humanity

  12. Jonathan

    Unsustainable water use is certainly the cause of such a shortage and reusing sewage water could certainly be a viable option to mitigate this problem. However, there are going to have to be major changes in water consumption patterns to even make sustaining such large populations a reality. I have heard of in-home three tank systems that can turn your black water (sewage) into gray water (not potable, but clean). This gray water could be used to wash the car and the lawn, which are unsustainable practices.

    Really, we just need to be concious of our own water use!

  13. Logan

    I think that recycling sewage water could possibly be a good alternative if consumers could somehow be persuaded that the idea is not as gross as it sounds. Also if this idea failed for drinking water, this recycled water could be used for non-consumption purposes like agriculture.
    -logan roberts

  14. Scott

    We need to learn to conserve resources and think about future generations. I have heard that teh water that is pumped out into teh harbor from the treatment plant on James Island is cleaner than the water in the harbor already. So, even though it sounds strange, there should be nothing wrong with it.

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