Tag Archives: recycled sewage water

  • Is Drinking Recycled Sewage Water Really that Gross?

    In a move that will improve the city's water security and make it more resilient to drought, residents of El Paso, Texas, will soon be drinking recycled wastewater.

    According to a recent report by CNN, the city is currently constructing a closed-loop water reticulation system that will recycle and treat sewage effluent, turning it back into potable water — a process known as 'advanced purification' or 'direct potable reuse' in the water treatment industry.

    Recycling wastewater is not new to El Paso or other drought prone urban centers such as Scottsdale, Arizona, Orange County, California and other water-stressed utilities across the US, who currently pump treated sewage water back into aquifers where it will ultimately be used for drinking water. Once water is returned to the aquifer, "it can take about five years for the water to filter through the ground before being pumped back out and treated to the standards of clean drinking water," Gilbert Trejo, chief technical officer at El Paso Water, told CNN.

    Recycled sewage water safe to drink? Recycled sewage water safe to drink?

    But El Paso is now taking this one step further. Instead of returning the treated wastewater back to the aquifer, it will be filtered further before being returned to the drinking water supply network in the closed-loop system.

    According to Trejo, after treatment, "we see this water that's clear and it's of good quality. The next thing for us to do is to take a high-quality water we produce at a state-of-the-art facility and then treat it a little bit more with multiple treatment processes so we can drink it."

    According to an EPA report, the volume of wastewater generated by some large cities represents up to 60% of total volume of water supplied. This can potentially provide a huge resource to water stressed cities such as El Paso that are constantly searching for additional water sources to ensure there is sufficient supply to meet the demand.

    In order to ensure that recycled wastewater is clean and safe to drink, the treated effluent water undergoes several additional filtration steps, including UV and carbon filtration, to remove harmful pathogens and bacteria. In fact, water treated in this manner has been found to contain less contaminants than untreated water from a river, dam or lake.

    But while this may be so, treated sewage water is not widely accepted as a drinking water source, largely due to the 'gross' factor. But the fact of the matter is that anyone who lives downstream from a wastewater treatment discharge point effectively drinks treated wastewater in some form or another. Just one reason why it is wise to treat your drinking water with a good quality water purifier.

    For El Paso and other urban areas located in arid regions where water scarcity is a reality, water utilities do what they have to to provide their customers with a reliable source of drinking water that is safe to drink. This includes advanced purification of sewage water and desalination, which El Paso Water expects will provide 6% and 10% of the city's water supply by 2030 respectively.

    As the world becomes hotter and drier in future, other cities faced with water shortages as a result of increased demand and decreasing water resources may have to follow the same route.

    According to Trejo, "water really is all around us in every city" and we have the technology available that allows us to treat it to a very high standard to make it safe to drink.

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