Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Toilet to Tap: Drinking Purified Sewage

Axel Koester for The New York Times
Desperate times . . . . The Orange County Water District is beginning a project that will purify sewage into drinking water:
It used to be so final: Flush the toilet and waste be gone.

But this week, for millions of people here in Orange County, pulling the lever will be the start of a long, intense process to purify the sewage into drinking water - after a hard scrubbing with filters, screens, chemicals and ultraviolet light and the passage of time underground.

On Friday, the Orange County Water District will turn on what industry experts say is the world's largest plant devoted to purifying sewer water to increase drinking water supplies. They and others hope it serves as a model for authorities worldwide facing persistent drought, predicted water shortages and projected growth.

Look for bottled water sales in Orange County to skyrocket. The project makes a great deal of sense; it's just an issue of seeing whether Orange County residents will be able to get past the knowledge that they are drinking reclaimed sewage.