Do You Know Where Your Water Comes from?

We Can’t Be Picky.

Droughts have forced many cities to look for alternative ways to obtain drinking water. Many cities, like Los Angeles, are required to transport water from hundreds of miles away, which is harmful to the environment and expensive. Other cities are required to use great amounts of energy and money to get their water from the ocean.

You all prefer these expensive ways to obtain water instead of water recycling which in comparison is cheaper and more effective. Water recycling has been around for a while but has not been used for drinking purposes. Why? Because people thought it was disgusting to drink recycled water.

A recent study by the Judgment and Decision-Making journal found out that 13 percent of adults in the US refuse to drink recycled water. It may seem like a very low percent of the population but they have stopped cities from using recycled water. Many years ago before the historic drought in California, cities like San Diego and Irvine tried implementing a water recycling program but failed because many people opposed it. If those recycling programs had been implemented the drought effects would not have as big of an impact.

Cups of Water Test

Take both cups above as an example. One of them is straight from the wastewater treatment plant and the other one is your normal cup of water. The water looks and tastes identical, people would not find a difference other than the cup the water is in. Both of them are exactly the same but people get gross out by one of them.

As you can see there is not difference, and as you may not know, many of you have been drinking recycled water the whole time. Yes, you are already drinking recycled water. Recycled water programs have been implemented in a couple of cities for a while now. Wastewater treatment plants usually discharge their water after it has been purified water back into rivers and aquifers. Those rivers and aquifers are the same ones that we obtain our drinking water from. People do not know they are drinking recycled water because there is no difference

What Part is Disgusting?

Recycled water is cleaner than the water that comes out of your faucet or bottle. The water has no impurities, diseases, it tastes normal, and it looks clear. There will not be anything floating around in your cup of water. What you do not like about recycled water is its’ origins. Everyone thinks that recycled water comes from our toilets. People are misinformed about the waters’ origins and as a result of that inaccuracy is what causes initiatives for recycled water to fail.

The water you use at home is the water that goes to the wastewater treatment plant. This includes sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. The water you use to clean your apples is the same water that gets recycled. Does not sounds so unpleasant now right? You need to understand that the water treated at as wastewater treatment plant is not just from your toilet.

Stop Referring to Recycled Water as Toilet-to-Tap

The more popular term for recycled water is “toilet-to-tap” water. This term is what gives you that negative connotation about the origins of recycled water. Hearing the word toilet on anything gives it a negative outlook. That is why you have that negative perspective about toilet-to-tap.

As an experiment, I asked a couple of friends what they thought about each term. Mostly everyone answered that recycled water sounded pleasant and they would not have a problem drinking it after a purification process. When I asked them what they thought if the water was named “toilet-to-tap” their answers were different. The term gave them a more negative perspective of recycled water. They thought it was water straight from a toilet and a purification process did not even cross their mind. Even though these terms are meant for the same thing; “toilet-to-tap” does not create a positive perspective on recycled water.

You should not feel gross out by recycled water or toilet-to-tap. Recycled water is not different to any water that you consume. Any biosolids or contaminants that were in the water are gone after a purification process at the wastewater treatment plant. What needs to happen is to stop using the term toilet-to-tap. That term is what causes you to have a negative image of recycled water.

Accepting recycled water will help more cities be able to fund wastewater treatment plants. These initiatives will benefit all of us. We would have water security in times of drought by having an effective and cheap way to obtain water. When you are against initiatives like these, even with little opposition, it is hard for cities to go through with them.

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