Drinking toilet water could be the future of drought-stricken California

As climate change and water scarcity become more pressing issues around the world, governments are changing options to ensure adequate water supply including turning sewage into potable water.

And if you’re in California, it might be flowing from your kitchen faucet.

The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday voted to allow water companies to pump treated wastewater into the faucets of residents in the densely populated, drought-prone state. In a statement, the board said the decision will provide California with the most advanced standards in the nation for treating wastewater to an extent that the finished product will meet or exceed current standards. of drinking water.

This is an exciting development in the states ongoing efforts to find new solutions to the challenges of extreme weather driven by climate change, said E. Joaquin Esquivel, the chair of the board.

Members unanimously approved the new regulations on Tuesday, after years of discussion and ahead of a deadline set six years ago for the state to adopt regulations for the use of also in wastewater by the end of 2023. After the new rules are finalized next year, water companies will be able to submit plans for projects to be approved by the board.

The new measures will save energy and benefit the environment, Esquivel said, adding that these regulations ensure that the water produced is not only safe, but purer than many sources of drinking water that we rely on. .

Many people are already drinking the treated waste, Esquivel said, the Associated Press reported. What is available today is wastewater that is treated through so-called indirect potable reuse, a process where wastewater is released into natural bodies of water, such as reservoirs and rivers, before being made into drinking water.

Tuesday’s vote allowed for that treatment.

Under the new regulations approved Tuesday, a version laid out in a 62-page document published earlier this year, any water recycled in this way must pass in at least three different treatment processes and monitor and further treat for pathogens.

It involves the use of an ozonation process that adds ozone gas, a powerful oxidant disinfectant to the water, followed by the addition of biologically activated carbon to the water, according to the document. The water goes through a reverse osmosis process, which physically removes contaminants from the water, and an advanced oxidation process., where chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide or chlorine are added to purify the water.

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The new policy does not require water companies to distribute water directly for drinking again, but allows them to do so, in a move that helps conserve scarce resources and reduce in the amount of waste released into the oceans and natural waterways.

California has just spent more than three years in a drought, amid heat waves and record wildfires. To deal with the growing issue of limited water supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released new proposals for water recycling targets last year, which are set to cost $27 billion by 2040, according to the AP. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to nearly half of the state’s 39 million residents, has begun construction on a major water recycling project, the AP reported.

The idea of ​​turning waste into potable water is not new. Windhoek, the capital of Namibia one of the driest countries in Africa became the first city in the world to introduce wastewater recycling more than 30 years ago, according to the city plant.

Singapore has installed an extensive filtration system that can treat nearly 238 million gallons of water per day, enough to fill 350 Olympic swimming pools. Most of it goes to industrial operations and for cooling systems, but part of it is mixed with the city-state’s drinking water.

California where, in the 1990s, similar proposals were ridiculed because the tap toilet is not the only state in the US that uses these technologies, because the communities are gradually warming up to the ideas that were once aroused anger.

Texas began operating its first direct potable reuse facility in 2013, while Colorado introduced guidelines for using wastewater for drinking purposes earlier this year.

In Britain facing droughts and record temperatures, and where residents opposed similar plans in 2013 the head of the national environment agency said last year that people should be less squeamish about concept.

Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.

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Image Source : www.washingtonpost.com

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