NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

RECYCLING SEWAGE IS SAFE AND EFFICIENT, SO WHY AREN'T WE DOING IT?

January 30, 2008

It is time for the United States to drop its squeamishness over drinking recycled sewage, along with its notion that drinking treated sea water is any less revolting, says Eilene Zimmerman in Slate.

Recycling sewage is a cheap and efficient solution to the nation's water problems, especially compared to removing salt from sea water, says Zimmerman:

  • Water officials in Orange County, Calif., estimated water from recycling sewage would cost $525 per acre-foot to produce, compared to $800 and $2,000 per acre-foot for a desalinization program.
  • The county recently opened a "Groundwater Replenishment System" that feeds treated sewage through clay and sand and into lakes.

But Orange County is an exception.  Voters elsewhere have consistently blocked sewage recycling programs, preferring desalinization as a way to quench their thirst.  The voters should remember, says Zimmerman, that plenty of unpalatable waste from the land flows into the sea, including metals, pesticides, pathogens and, of course, sewage.

Source: Robin Moroney, "Is It Time to Swallow Idea of Recycled Sewage Waste?" Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2008; based upon: Eilene Zimmerman, "It's Time To Drink Toilet Water; Recycling sewage is safe and efficient, so why aren't we doing it?" Slate.com, January 25, 2008.

For WSJ text:

http://blogs.wsj.com/informedreader/ 

For Slate text:

http://www.slate.com/id/2182758/

 

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