By Ashley Varga

I am going, to be honest here. I had NO idea that toilet water could be recycled.

But one quick Google search later, and my uncertainty was answered.

IT CAN BE!

Interesting…

Side note: I am new to working in the water industry, so as I learn new things, you will too. We’re all in this together, my friends.

Okay, so toilet water to drinking water.

First question: why is this a thing?

Like usual, I conducted some research and found that Big Springs, Texas became the first U.S. city to adopt direct potable reuse (DPR) system, about five years ago amid punishing droughts.

“The DPR system at the Colorado River Municipal Water District takes treated wastewater from Big Spring, purifies it, and then mixes it with the city’s regular water supply. Eventually, its heads to consumers’ taps,” according to Kristen Cabrera from WHYY.

Okay… the concept doesn’t actually seem THAT bad when it’s explained. And it actually makes sense.

Limited water = resource. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I can dig it.

It’s renewed water for better use. Awesome!

So, while some may not want to drink wastewater recycled from a DPR system, it’s kind of essential to surviving during difficult times.

To me, this not only makes the DPR system really cool but also extremely innovative.

My next question and probably yours: is this method safe? I mean, after all, this is WASTE water… from a toilet.

Sort of like when we examined if eating poop fruit is safe.

Anyway, more Googling and head scratching later, only to find out…

“Recycled wastewater is safe to drink,” according to Mother Nature Network.

“Wastewater can be added to the drinking water supply through a direct potable reuse method or an indirect potable reuse method, according to Environmental Health. Both of these methods are sometimes referred to as “toilet to tap,” Mother Nature Network explained.

So, as we talked about earlier, with the DPR method, wastewater is highly treated with advanced processes and sent directly back into the potable distribution system. With the indirect potable reuse, called the IPR method, after the water has been treated, it’s then blended with the water in an environmental buffer, like an aquifer or a reservoir, similar to what Texas did in Big Springs. Then the water makes its way into the potable water supply and BOOM, we’re drinking recycled water.

While I personally would still be hesitant to drink recycled wastewater, the concept is truly scientific and innovative. And in some areas, it helps people in need so, what’s better than that?

‘Renewed water,’ is the new ‘toilet to tap.’

Want to absorb more info about this topic?

I found these articles helpful during my research and you might too:

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/10/recycled-water

https://whyy.org/segments/from-toilet-to-tap-a-texas-town-makes-the-most-of-its-pre-owned-water/

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/blogs/taste-recycled-waste-water

https://sites.sandiego.edu/sdpollutiontrackers/2018/05/09/toilet-to-tap-not-as-horrendous-as-youd-think/

http://wordpress.vermontlaw.edu/environmentalhealth/2013/03/16/indirect-potable-reuse-the-solution-to-future-water-shortages/

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