Posted by: brian | January 31, 2008

Your dog drinks out of the toilet – why can’t you?

Orange County, California is setting up a facility to recycle sewage as drinking water. “Toilet-to-tap” sounds gross, but this actually happens in nature already. Treated effluent typically is released to places where it re-enters the global hydrological cycle, either through evaporation, percolation into groundwater storage, or returning to rivers and lakes. In many cases the water that comes out of sewage treatment plants is cleaner than the bodies of water it enters. The OC facility is not going to take freshly treated water and pump it right back into drinking water supplies, though. The output of the plant will be put into area riverbeds where it will infiltrate to the groundwater and join the existing sources of drinking water. The cycle will take, at the very least, several months if not years to complete, so sewage that enters the plant now isn’t going to be coming to a faucet near you for quite a while.

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