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Would you drink reclaimed sewage water?


 
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#1 FamilyTreeClimber

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

There was a story on the news that caught my eye.  I believe it is Santa Clara county in California that is working on this.  They are close to developing a process that would make water tainted with sewage safe for drinking.  They do not have plans as yet to bring it to the tap, but it sounds like something they want to do in the near future.

My first reaction is "Ewwwww".  There is something about this whole idea that is gross.  Then, again, this might be the right solution for many places where drinking water is hard to come by.

My concern is what do they put into the water to make it drinkable?  Sewage would have to have quite a lot of bacteria and, um, other stuff, in it.  How safe would this reclaimed water be?  Would the chemicals used to make it drinkable be more hazard than they are worth?  I know we already add quite a few things like fluoride to our water.

What do you think of this idea?

#2 Usea

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:13 PM

Well I'll Start by Saying its not at all a bad idea, cause the idea of reuse, recycle, is been practicalize, so why not?
But of course they shld be first laboratory proves that for sure the water has been really cleansed.

#3 FamilyTreeClimber

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 11:51 PM

I'm into the whole recycle and reuse thing.  For some reason, this makes my stomach turn.

I know they currently have standards for certain things like feces, bacteria, arsenic, etc.  It's usually parts per million or parts per billion.  So, how clean can they get the water?

I do worry about the chemicals that they would be using.  Are they safe for humans to drink?  What about the environment, would there be problems with disposing of the chemicals after they've been used to clean up the water?

#4 still learning

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:48 PM

 FamilyTreeClimber, on 29 November 2012 - 08:33 PM, said:

.....Santa Clara.....My concern is what do they put into the water to make it drinkable?....  

Looks like they do really good filtration, plus ultraviolet exposure.  Not so much adding stuff.   See http://abclocal.go.c..._bay&id=8903117

In principle, with modern methods, should be able to make the reclaimed water perfectly safe to drink.  In principle.

You know though that diluted sewage has long been recycled into drinking water?   It's common in some areas for one city to dump sewage effluent into a river that a downstream city gets it's drinking water from.  For instance, Omaha dumps treated sewage into the Missouri River that downstream Kansas City draws from.  http://www.cityofomaha.org/pw/ http://www.h2oc.com/pdfs/KC.pdf
Apparently Dallas and Houston too.  Others.  Sewage effluent gets diluted a lot by the river, but still...  At least nowadays sewage is treated.  A century ago it woildn't have been.

#5 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:51 PM

They had that on Planet Green a few years back, and the guy had the same reaction-Ewwww.
But when all was said and done and they tested it, it was cleaner than bottled water the guy had bought
at a quick stop.
As long as the testing, and the results are transparent, sure. If they don't disclose their findings, no thanks. :wink:

#6 FamilyTreeClimber

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:17 PM

dissn-it, It's good to know that they are doing it with methods that are not chemical based. I know that California requires that fluoride be added to drinking water.  I don't know what else, so we probably don't need anything else added in.

I did not know that some places were already allowing the treatment of sewage water for drinking purposes.  The news report stated this was not the case in California and that the water this county was working with hasn't yet met state standards (though they were getting close).  In some ways, that makes me wonder how high or low the standards can vary from each state or even each city?

#7 E3 wise

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 03:43 PM

As usual FamilyTreeClimber you ask a question that is not only timely but important to the future of everyone on the planet.  Many of you have seen my posting before on the importance of safeguarding and securing the future of our water.  Growing up in West Texas on a cattle ranch the importance of water was something that was a daily concern.  In an area that averages 12 to 18 inches of rain in a good year, and famous for its record droughts and dust bowls the history of water scarcity literally is written into the land all around us.  Then there was the legacy of my grandfather’s greatest personal loss that would forever mark clean safe water as an integral part of daily life.  You see my grandfather’s father had died soon after his younger brother’s birth, his mother would two years later contract cholera ( a disease transmitted by infected water or food) and die, leaving my grandfather then 7 and great uncle 5, orphans to be raised by aunts and other family members.

That pain and loss was a legacy that my grandfather would carry for the rest of his life and it would subconsciously shape every decision he would make for the rest of his life.  When he began buying land for the ranch in the early 1920’s water was central to his plan and would prove to be the most important aspect during the great depression and dust bowls to come in later years.  Growing up I vividly remember the care and maintenance put into our water resources that included our wells, cisterns, and fresh water sources.  So you can understand why insuring the future of clean, potable water is ingrained in my nature and why we made it an integral part of our company, Environmental Power & Water Generation.  All this means that I am constantly reading, attending classes and seminars and staying up to date with the latest water treatment resources.

In Charles Fishman’s The Big Thirst (2011), Simon & Schuster the author goes into great detail regarding our everyday ties and many times casual relationship with water.  He points out that all water is reclaimed water. Meaning that because all the water we have today has existed on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, there is a good chance that the water you drink today, may have been in the long past the result of prehistoric dinosaur pee.  So the yuck factor is all about how you think of water.  Just because it comes from an underground aquifer, or some other hidden source does not mean it does not have a hidden past.

In talking about water treatment and water reclamation he goes on to point out several wasteful practices modern human all participate in.  One is the use of clean potable water for use in toilets and bathrooms, another is the use of potable water for things like watering lawns or washing cars, with little thought of how precious and scarce water resources are.  A great example being the droughts over the last two years here in many parts of the central United States.

Today here in the United States the water you drink has been treated, filtered and purified, as long as you do not know too much about the process, the average person has no idea of all the processes used to bring that clean water to your tap, and in almost all cases that water is no more or less pure than the bottled water being bought by Americans in record numbers.  In fact many of the biggest producers of bottles water simply bottle the municipal water one more time and then package it and sell it to consumers at a greatly increased cost.  Also today the average water coming to your home is relatively cheap in cost, many times being ½ or less than the average person’s cable bill. Finally in most municipal areas and cities, after the water we use is flushed down our toilets or runs down the drain it is recaptured, purified and set back on its way down river to the next water area where the process begins all over again.  Understanding this process goes a long way in bridging the gap between what we normally think about water and its true nature and use in our society.  Today Cholera, Typhoid and many other water born diseases are almost unknown factors here in the United States, showing just how ingrained clean water has become in our everyday lives.

My point is that with all the quality standards, purification and treating that goes on with modern water management today the only thing that holds back the widespread adoption of water reclamation is cost and the yuk factor.  As water becomes scarcer due to increases in population, farming and energy production, the reuse of water over and over again from wastewater is something that will become the norm in the next 100 years.

Today the water you drink has been around for hundreds of millions of years and has gone through many different users before it reaches your tap.  Maybe it’s the stuff of past glaciers from the last ice age, or underground water left over from prehistoric times when it was the drinking water of dinosaurs or other animals.   Billions of years old it has been reused over and over throughout time.  What is different today is the painstaking and detailed process used to purify it for our use.  There is a finite amount of water on this planet and if we as a civilization are going to continue to grow we will have to get used to the idea of water reuse and reclamation because without it all life ceases here on earth.

In closing I would like to say that I have toured and participated in several educational forums at water treatment facilities in California, Texas, Florida and New York.  I have seen firsthand the processes used to treat water from things like sewage and other sources and invariable at the end of the tour the guide will fill a glass of treated water and ask if anyone wants a drink, with the usual looks of trepidation from the people around me, I always step right up and drink down a glass or two of the refreshing life giving elixir and smack my lips with a big smile and usually a comment like “Boy that’s good”, the reason is simply it is good, and safe, and because of the painstaking purification and technology used people don’t have to worry that their love ones will die from disease from infected water, which is probably the biggest factor to the health and long life spans we enjoy today in the United States.

Jeff Moore
Director of Technology Integration
Environmental Power & Water Generation & E3Wise

P.S.  If you are interested water issues I would like to recommend the following books, all have great information are easy to understand and bring up critical issues and solutions to our water needs.  I would also recommend you down load Kindle to your computer and use that reading resources, it easy, cost a lot less than regular books in print, and it’s good for the environment because no paper or fuel is used to bring it to you.  Finally if you need to find a quote or passage for a presentation or discourse it really is so simple.  For someone like myself, that is always traveling, having your library with you can be effortless, rewarding and a whole lot cheaper.

The Future of Water (2011) Steve Maxwell
The Big Thirst (2011) Charles Fishman
When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century (2007) Fred Pearce
The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century (2011) ALEX PRUD’HOMME
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization (2011) Steve Solomon
Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It   (2010) Robert Glennon
Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water (2003) Maude Barlow & Tony Clark
Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource (2010) Peter Rodger, Susan Leal, & Edward J. Markey

#8 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 04:58 AM

As always-thank you!

#9 FamilyTreeClimber

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:43 AM

E3, thank you for telling that story.  It seems your family has a deep connection to water issues and understands through the generations the importance of clean drinking water.  So many diseases can spread through drinking water.  Cholera one of the most devastating.  We in the US and Western nations are lucky compared to some other nations where water of any type is almost a luxury.  Clean water would be a dream.  Still, we have to battle companies that want to circumvent regulations to make a cheap dollar.

I suppose once we get over the "yuck" factor it won't seem as bad.  You haven't turned green yet, have you? ;)

Let's face it, if you take bottled water companies at their word that they are bottling mountain spring water, wouldn't there be a certain amount of "debris" that has to be cleaned out?  There must be fish and animal urine and feces in the water that has to be filtered out.  After all, it is the mountains!

#10 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

 FamilyTreeClimber, on 03 December 2012 - 10:43 AM, said:

There must be fish and animal urine and feces in the water that has to be filtered out.  After all, it is the mountains!
Bad Nemo! :laugh:

#11 E3 wise

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:31 PM

Hey every animal I know of poops and pees.  The point is that your drinking water has been used by a lot of different users before we get it.  It really is all about how much you know.  Several cities in Australia, Asia, Europe, and here in the United States are starting to use reclaimed water for things like watering plants, but as water becomes more scarce, using reclaimed water for drinking is gaining traction.  As long as it meets quality standards for potable water, it's basically no different than what nature does over hundreds or thousands of years.m like I said it really is about the yuk factor. Considering the chemicals used to produce the bottles for bottled water, that's what will probably give us all cancer, not the water.

#12 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:49 AM

Some info about greywater and blackwater.
https://docs.google....nhq8FRYRUfICzOg

#13 E3 wise

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:34 AM

Great resource Shortpoet I suggest people review the positive aspects of gray & black water use.

#14 r. zimm

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:47 AM

My problem is that I'd be the guy who walks up, drinks down the glass of freshly treated water, then just freeze, get a weird look on my face and collapse just for the fun of it!

Most of us are already drinking treaded sewage anyway and then we have filters on the refrigerator at home as well.

#15 watersurveyEU

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 09:43 AM

I wonder if Europeans and Americans generally differ in their perception of tap water. Here in Germany at least, tap water is probably the most controlled foodstuff and has a very positive image. I often experienced that Americans in Germany (members of the US army) bought filtered water in huge plastic bottles instead of just drinking tap water. Image all the wasted energy: The plastic bottle, the filtration, and driving this plastic bottles around in a small truck.
Perhaps Europeans "trust" their tap water and water providers more?! I would not have a problem with drinking reclaimed sewage water  ... (if it was filtrated in Germany at least)    :)

#16 E3 wise

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 09:54 AM

You are so right, I spend time in Germany for our business and the water is fantastic,  I truly cannot understand why people buy bottled water there or many other places including the United States.  It is truly a waste of so many resources.  Likewise some of the German technology is the bests the world for water treatment and purification using not only less chemicals and more natural processes, but also renewable energy sources.

I often am looked at by Americans as over touting Germany's achievements in renewable, biofuels, water treatment and hydrogen technologies.  My response is this, when a country is leading the world in these vital areas and is doing so in a way that actually provides economic, social and environmental improvements at a staggering rate we all need to see how they are doing it and try to emulate  and  incorporate the same actions in our own countries.

#17 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:31 AM

Some of it is lack of awareness. I've often approached shoppers that are buying water in case load lots and
ask them simply why they aren't just using a counter-top filter instead; if they are worried about the purity
of it? Huge money saver for one, and as mentioned, the transport of it and the emissions.
Even if they recycle the bottles, it's a waste.
And people also don't realize that city or county water filtration systems are under strict regulations while
bottled water is often not.

#18 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 02:42 PM

A couple of stories as of late in Texas about wastewater. (They're scrambling to come up with ways to reduce
water use and using wastewater is one of them.)
http://www.myhighpla...mME6fLMXAarTcig

http://www.myhighpla...8HU2Js35DzdpPOA

http://www.myhighpla...pB0CSrw40_Wv8gA

#19 Besoeker

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 03:02 PM

 E3 wise, on 24 February 2013 - 09:54 AM, said:

You are so right, I spend time in Germany for our business and the water is fantastic,  I truly cannot understand why people buy bottled water there or many other places including the United States.  It is truly a waste of so many resources.
I have a little story relating to that. I go round a lot of water pumping stations in the UK. Mostly water treatment works for potable water.
One in particular supplies spring water for bottling and mains water for tap water. It's the same water.
Well, nearly the same.
A couple of differences.
The bottled water is hugely more expensive. Like 100 times.
And, in contrast to mains water, it can sit in the bottles for a very long time.

If any of you happen to buy bottled water, check the expiry date.

#20 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 04:11 AM

Californian's have nicknamed the practice of using recycled waste water-"showers to flowers" :laugh:
Their historic drought is making them rethink their attitudes towards using waste water.
Via Mother Jones-
http://www.motherjon...oilet-tap-water

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