Another U.S. town takes the plunge on "Toilet to Tap"

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You might say that. As the Atlantic reports, 99.93 percent of the entire state of Texas is in a drought, and the way that we continue to have extreme weather in the U.S. due to climate change, such developments will probably only continue.


That's why it's not silly to bring up Chairman Miranda's idea, at least to discuss further. When we spoke with him about the idea in the winter of 2010, he was hoping to generate enough conversation on the issue that the public could possibly vote on it during the 2011 municipal elections. That obviously didn't happen.


The reason Miranda thought it was relevant was because of certain facts: the city is still dumping tens of millions of gallons of highly treated waste water into the bay, and there have been concerns that state or federal regulators at some point will rule that the city can't continue to do that.


Miranda's proposal would cost money - estimated at some $200 million. But other alternatives could be more expensive.


Recently the city of San Diego is undergoing an $11.8 million a pilot project using IPR.


Bryan Walsh of Time magazine ends a piece that appears on the magazine's website about this situation thusly:


Right now, nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, and by 2025, 1.8 billion people are expected to be living in areas that experience extreme water scarcity. That's going to include the tens of millions of Americans who will live in fast-growing but dry areas like Arizona, Nevada, Texas and southern California. With more straws dipping into our water reservoirs—and the very real possibility that climate change could further dry out the West—we can't afford to waste it down the toilet. If water recycling is good enough for astronauts, it should be good enough for us too.

The city of Tampa has some issues with water, and will continue to in the future. Some CL readers may recall the cover story we wrote back in January of 2010 on an idea by Tampa City Council man Charlie Miranda that would propose that the city adopt indirect potable reuse (IPR), which critics derisively marginalize by dubbing it "toilet to tap."

We revisit the issue today because of a Discovery News report that in Big Springs, Texas, ravaged by current drought conditions (the third worst in Lone Star history), is seriously considering doing IPR.

Actually, what Big Spring is doing is taking treated wastewater that would usually be discharged into a creek and blending it with potable water supplies. But it still freaks people out, as

It won't exactly be direct "toilet to tap"—rather, the planet will take treated wastewater that would usually be discharged into a creek or lake, and instead blend it with potable water supplies. The city's district manager says this system speeds up what would naturally occur with the flow of discharged water through wetlands.

But the concept still freaks people out, as city employee Terri Telchik says:

When you talk about toilet-to-(water) tank it makes a lot of people nervous and grossed out... [But] we're going through a really bad drought.

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