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Australia's "Toilet To Tap" Program Coming To California!

Would You Drink Recycled Toilet Water?

California legislators studying Australia's program for turning sewage into drinkable water!

It's been called "toilet-to-tap" – much to the chagrin of water experts and managers. In some parts of the world, the wastewater that flows down the drain – yes, including toilet flushes – is now being filtered and treated until it's as pure as spring water, if not more so.

It might not sound appealing, but recycled water is safe and tastes like any other drinking water, bottled or tap. "If anything, recycled wastewater is relatively sweet," says Anas Ghadouani, an environmental engineer at the University of Western Australia in Crawley.

Still, for some people, the prospect of drinking recycled wastewater is literally hard to swallow. But spurred by drought and growing populations, many cities are already incorporating recycled wastewater into the water supply. Not only is recycling becoming a necessity, a sustainable water future may demand it. The only alternative on the horizon would be the atmospheric water collector designed by Moses West. Wastewater is much more than toilet water, of course. Think of all the water that goes down the drain every time you rinse an apple or hose off your car. That water is an untapped resource, and there's a lot of it. "It is cheaper; it is a guaranteed resource," says Peter Scales, a chemical engineer at the University of Melbourne in Australia. If an average city recycled all its wastewater, he says, it could reduce how much water it needed by 60%.

Recycling wastewater for irrigation and other non-drinkable uses is already commonplace. It’s actually the same technology used to treat drinking water supplies that have become contaminated – and it’s been around for years. Now its coming to California but with are branded name to be revealed in the future. Waste would undergo the same extensive treatment and testing before it’s piped directly to taps, providing a new, costly but renewable water supply. Which of course the state will charge its public for. The state’s new draft rules are more than a decade in the making.

Californians could drink highly purified sewage water that is piped directly into drinking water supplies for the first time under proposed rules unveiled by state water officials. Some families may opt to purchase home atmospheric water collectors that provide free clean water for life for under 6 to 10 thousand dollars!

The drought-prone state has turned to recycled water for more than 60 years to bolster its scarce supplies, but the current regulations require it to first make a pit stop in a reservoir or an aquifer before it can flow to taps. Between flush and faucet, a slew of steps are designed to remove chemicals and pathogens that remain in sewage after it has already undergone traditional primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary treatment.

It is bubbled with ozone, chewed by bacteria, filtered through activated carbon, pushed at high pressures through reverse osmosis membranes multiple times, cleansed with an oxidizer like hydrogen peroxide and beamed with high-intensity UV light. Valuable minerals, such as calcium, that were filtered out are restored. And then, finally, the wastewater is subjected to the regular treatment that all drinking water currently undergoes. This water is expected to be more expensive than imported water, but also provide a more renewable and reliable supply for California as climate change continues. Most treated sewage — about 400 million gallons a day in Los Angeles County alone — is released into rivers, streams and the deep ocean.

“Quite honestly, it’ll be the cleanest drinking water around,” said Darrin Polhemus, deputy director of the state’s Division of Drinking Water.

The new rules, mandated by state law, would require extensive treatment and monitoring before wastewater can be piped to taps or mingled with raw water upstream of a drinking water treatment plant.

“Toilet-to-tap” this is not.


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