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WATER: It’s called the “cycle” for a reason, right?

Drought conditions in Texas have led the El Paso Water Utilities head to speak the unspeakable: the idea of [cue dramatic music] “direct potable water reuse.” In many media circles, it’s referred to as water recycling, or “toilet to tap.”

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies shared the link, and it followed a related recent tweet by author and speaker Rose George:

The truth is, she’s right.

The gut reaction from some is, “Ew, I’m drinking toilet water?!” As Ms. George stated, it’s all recycled anyway, isn’t it? Sometimes the route is just a step or two longer, but it’s all the same good ol’ H2O, used over and over and over again.

Here’s a water-cycle graphic we use with our speakers bureau to demonstrate how the urban water cycle works in Cleveland:

In El Paso’s case, or even in very small closed systems, like in space missions, the step missing is the stop in Lake Erie. The processes are similar, the waste is removed, and the purified water is fit for drinking.

Does this thought make you uncomfortable? Or is the “Ew, gross!” reaction not as widespread as we think?

Hey, if the space station can turn toilet water to tap water using a machine this size…

…maybe we just need to loosen up and go with the flow.

    Comments ( 2 )

  • Love the post and the Urban Water Cycle Diagram. We are providing tours of our water filtration and water resource recovery facilities to all Avon Lake 5th graders this week. Your urban water cycle diagram is great and will be shown to them, along with your "Where does it go?" video. Thanks for creating these helpful materials.