With nearly 60% of the U.S. going through drought conditions, and half of all the countries in the world declared as disaster areas, there is a need to find a solution for another source of water. But where would we look? How about in your toilet? The wastewater (what we usually flush down our toilets) can be recycled and is a fairly cheap and effective way to obtain more water. In fact, according to the National Academy of Sciences, if the wastewater which is flushed were recycled, the U.S. could increase it’s water supply by 27%, or nearly 12 billion gallons!
While the process for recycling wastewater is more rigorous than the process for regular tap water, it is up to 2/3 cheaper than Desalination (turning seawater into drinking water). This is due in large part because of the filtration that needs to be done. While wastewater is only 1,000 parts per million salt, seawater is 35,000 and therefore needs a more rigorous filtration. The other problem with Desalination is, it is limited to states near an ocean.
I’m sure that even the thought of drinking what was once flushed makes the majority of people cringe a bit, but according to the NAS, “Recent advances in technology and treatment design, potable reuse can reduce the concentration of chemical and microbial contaminants to levels comparable to or lower than those present in many drinking water supplies.”
It is estimated that only 7% of municipalities across the U.S. use recycled wastewater, and of that 7% only a handful of communities actually drink it. The wastewater is usually used for agriculture and golf courses.
With the world’s fresh water supply dwindling, and countries continuing to deal with drought conditions, recycled wastewater may end up being the answer we need. And hey, my dog drank directly from the toilet all the time and he seemed to like it!