Recycling Waste Water
With the current climate changes and increasing population growthrate and an impending drought in many countries, the current watersupplies are not enough. It is even worse for cities like San Diego,which have to import water for its residential use. San Diego imports90% of its water, with no hope of a better tomorrow as the riversthey rely on are drying up. Countries have resorted to innovativestrategies to increase their water supplies. The central concept isrecycling effluent to highly purified water using moderntechnologies. The water is safe enough to meet all community needs,according to the scientists. However, convincing the population todrink water that has a history of sewage is simply not working, sincemore than half of the people in San Diego area against the idea. Thisessay discusses the issues underlying the use of recycled water inSan Diego and other cities.
When the author visits the San Diego sterile water processing plant,she is surprised at the purity of the product. She follows throughthe process, from once toilet bowl water to the final purifies theproduct. She trusts the water enough to want to drink it. However,she cannot drink it since the Department has not opened its use tothe public. While some people see nothing wrong in the water, manyare against the project due to the origin of the water. However,people are beginning to change opinion on the legitimacy of thewater.
The San Diego city is now seeing the need for indirect potable reusedue to the water shortage problem facing the city. The drought hasbecome worse, and the population in the coastal neighborhood hasgrown over the years, making the people scramble for the currentwater sources available. What is more, there is the Colorado Riverand Sacramento-Joaquin Delta, from which the city imports water aredrying. There is a pressing need to look for alternative sources(Hefferman, 2014). The California state insists on direct potableuse, an approach where the effluent is highly purified and sentstraight to people’s taps. The people insist on diluting the waterin a reservoir after purification hence the direct potable approachis unlikely to go through.
In this regard, the San Diego pilot water plant is putting to gainpublic endorsement. They are working towards getting rid of the "yuckfactor," which is holding the people back. To convince them, thefacility is making their water purer than people`s current watersources. Accomplishing a higher level of purity compared to thecurrent sources is easy because most people are consuming water from"downstream,” where people use as a disposal site. In orderto attain the great extent of purity, the pilot facility takes thewastewater through four first processes.
The first step is microfiltration, a low-pressure process where theyfiltrate the water through membranes. The membranes remove smallparticles, bacteria, and other substances from the water. Thisprocess prepares the water for reverse osmosis. At the reverseosmosis stage, they take the water through a powerful process. Thewater goes through several sheets of thin membranes to get rid ofminerals and other contaminants such as viruses and chemicals. Thenext stage is ultraviolet disinfection. They expose the water toultraviolet light combined with hydrogen peroxide. These two producean oxidation reaction, which disintegrates impure compounds intosimple components. The final process is ozone disinfection, wherebythey combine the water with ozone, leading to a chemical reactionthat disinfects the water.
Several cities in California have adopted the potable reuse of waterto beat the water shortage problem. An instance is the City ofCarlsbad, which manages a recycled water treatment plant to cater forthe water demand of its seaside community (Schwartz, 2015). Escondidocity also treats sewage water, but it is currently only being usedfor irrigation. Enticing people to drink the water in these towns hasalso experienced challenges.
Just in California cities, Australia metropolis and provinces havefaced problems with gaining acceptance of potable water use. The‘water-to-tap` perception roams amongst the citizens. It hasparalyzed efforts to pass implement potable water usage in the past.Policy hindrances have also come along the way, with regulatoryframeworks limiting the direct augmentation of water sources,especially drinking water. The reliability of water sources has beenunder strict scrutiny, focusing on the health of Australians.
While many states have a problem with embracing recycled water,Windhoek, TX and Cloudcroft are examples of cities that use theoption for domestic consumption. In Windhoek, Namibia, WINGOC is thecompany responsible for running a clean water treatment plant. Theprocess, just like San Diego, goes through several filtrationprocesses and ozone treatment. The city`s main inspiration to adoptdirect water reuse is its location in the middle of the Kalahari andNamib deserts. Cloudcroft relies on 100% recycled water for drinking,farming and other domestic uses. Spring, TX also purifies water toprovide clean water to residents. Some people came up with the phrase‘toilet to tap’ to discourage its use by promoting others’ gagreflexes. However, drought and diminishing sources of water in theregion have made the idea palatable in the region.
California has a long coastline hence, desalination could be anoption for increased water supply too. However, the average amountrequired to construct a desalination center is $1 billion. Thetechnology also lacks enough capacity to produce enough water for alarge population at once. Water recycling is cheaper to run, and itgenerates enough water. For San Diego, the current water project isenough to meet 40% of the city`s water need (Hefferman, 2014).Therefore, it is more cost-effective for the government to invest inwater recycling plants across the country. This factor may forceCalifornia to embrace cleansing of wastewater compared todesalinization.
From Heffermsn’s article, I have gained a wider perspective onwater recycling as an alternative water source. Potable water reuseis a cheap, reliable for California and any other state facing waterproblems. Before reading the article, I had heard of the JanickiOmniprocessor that made pure water from sewage. It got an endorsementfrom Bill Gates, and he even tasted the water. The thought ofdrinking the water made me cringe. Apart from the view of the originof the water, I questioned its purity too. However, from the articleam surprised to learn that recycled water can be purer than the tapwater we take every day. The only problem with the water ispsychological. The "yuck factor" is hard for many people toovercome even people know that the water is safe for consumption.Getting people past this might be the final step to piping the waterto their houses.
Hefferman, O. (2014). Bottoms Up. Scientific American Digital:68-75
Scwartz, J. (2015). Water Flowing From Toilet to Tap May Be Hardto Swallow. Retrieved from<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/science/recycled-drinking-water-getting-past-the-yuck-factor.html?_r=0>