Many of us take water for granted. But, that's a bad idea. Water is a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce in many developed nations.
In times of drought, many U.S. communities have difficulty meeting water requirements. Much of North America suffered from a long-term drought just a couple of years ago. Our memories are short, but this was a frightening time.
In late 2003, two California water agencies entered into an agreement to expand water recycling services. The new project will require a treatment plant and new pipelines to deliver water from waste water treatment facilities to customers.
That's right, water from human toilets will be treated and sold generally for non-drinking purposes. This can include lawn watering and industrial applications.
The concept of water recycling is not brand new, but it seems to be increasing in popularity. California and Florida are most involved right now in exploring these possibilities, but the idea of water recycling is expanding everywhere.
There are a variety of water recycling ideas. Some include capturing surface water runoff and consumer education. For example, Bermuda obtains a lot of drinking water from rain water collected on roof tops.
But a common idea that is most innovative involves using water from waste water treatment facilities. Many governments operate wastewater treatment facilities that treat human waste. This results in the production of solids, which are trucked away, and liquid. The liquid is usually very well treated and released into a local stream or other water body.
Water recycling suggests actually selling this water rather than placing it in a stream or river. Usually, recycling is suggested for non-potable (drinking water) purposes. Irrigation is often one of the suggested uses.
Not everyone loves the idea. Many still question the safety of reusing this water. But properly treated water should not pose a problem.
Perhaps public perception is worse than the reality. In any event, this is certainly a way to increase water availability in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Recently, Melbourne, Australia announced that it would become involved in a large water recycling plan.
The city plans to use recycled water for maintaining public grounds. The water department has publicly stated the water will not smell and will be almost drinkable. In fact, it has asserted it can produce drinkable water if needed.
Recycled sewer water is a reality in some places. And it is sure to be a reality in many U.S. communities. While public acceptance will be a threshold concern, the idea makes too much sense to ignore.