All water is recycled water. For many of you that is a sobering thought. However, there is a high probability most of the water you drink is made up of water molecules that passed through the bodies of other humans or animals sometime in the past. Thanks to the hydrologic cycle all the water on earth has been recycled many times. It rains or snows on some part of the earth, and the water eventually flows to a river, lake or ocean. In simple terms – the water evaporates into the sky, forms clouds and then in the form of rain or snow, falls back to the ground creating the hydrologic cycle. Let’s not ignore that some of the water does move through the ground replenishing large underground lakes that we often pump for agricultural or urban water use.
The yuck factor
The term toilet to tap has been haunting water conservationist since it was first used. It creates an inaccurate impression of what and how water recycling works. Nevada and Arizona have been showing the country how easy and beneficial recycled water can be for years. In Las Vegas almost all the water that runs down the drain is returned to Lake Mead. In Central Arizona, (think big cotton/agriculture) 95% of the wastewater generated is recycled and put to use for example, in agriculture and cooling the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. The water in Las Vegas that is returned to Lake Mead has been treated for 6 hours in a treatment facility. Then released into the Las Vegas wash, which is a 12-mile channel that uses the Las Vegas wetlands as another filtering process. This all happens before it is pumped back into Lake Mead. Once in Lake Mead other natural filtering takes place. Finally, before it is used for water again in Las Vegas it is treated again and tested to ensure it is safe for drinking. This treatment process is not an exception and makes the term toilet to tap sound ridiculous and obviously created to stir up emotions and not to accurately describe all the steps taken to clean the water.
Education is key
There is a lack of information available to the public today explaining why recycled water is safe, useful and important to our future. It is not a surprise most of the information distributed has been negative and sensationalized. The public has a right to know how much science goes into the treatment of water and the benefits of using recycled water compared to the costs of using traditional water sources. We need to empower people to make decisions about their communities and lives through proper education.
Still wondering if sustainability is a fad
It’s amazing to see all the people taking action for a sustainable future. Did you realize in a month 400,000 people put down $1,000 for an opportunity to purchase a $35,000 Tesla that might not be delivered for more than a year. Wait what…that is action. Looking for more action, in the beer world people think water is the most important ingredient for great beer. This craft brewery is making beer from wastewater and can’t keep it in stock. People are demanding change all over the United States and fortunately many are putting the change into action and we are making gains in sustainable development. What are you seeing out there? Please let us know in the comments section of this article and if you liked this article please consider subscribing or following me on twitter @H2oTrends.