How the water you flush becomes the water you drink - Francis de los Reyes
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In 2014, in response to a 40-year drought, the town of Wichita Falls in Texas started piping 5 million gallons a day of treated wastewater into its water system. For about a year, until the rains came, the residents of this Texas town were drinking their wastewater. The NEWater project in Singapore, which began in 2003, is widely known as a success, and continues to augment the country’s water supply. In the US, the City of San Diego has been at the forefront of research and the pilot testing of indirect and direct potable reuse to reduce its dependence on imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California.
In California, indirect potable reuse of wastewater (groundwater replenishment or reservoir supplementation) is tightly governed by U.S. EPA and CA rules and regulations. This ensures that chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane and PFAS (perfluorinated alkyl substances) are below maximum contaminant levels or notification levels set by the state. Water reuse can also happen in non-sewered situations (i.e., household or onsite systems). Research is being conducted on treatment options, risks to humans, and life cycle assessment. In the U.S., a national water reuse action plan is coordinated by the U.S. EPA. Many organizations, such as the WaterReuse Association are dedicated to advancing policies, laws, and public acceptance of water reuse. A big challenge is educating the public, and community-based educational campaigns have proven to be critical in that important effort.
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