Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Why We Don’t Drink More Waste Water

Water is becoming scarcer in Texas, and the solutions being passed around as of late are varied. Desalination, conservation and new reservoirs are all on the table. Another less, ummmm, palatable solution that is already being used in Texas? Treating “effluent” (i.e. waste water) to be used again for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

A new video op-ed in the New York Times by filmmaker Jessica Yu looks at the psychological barriers to adapting waste water for re-use, featuring cockroaches and a creative “Folgers switch“-style test marketing of bottled treated affluent called Porcelain Springs.

Every summer, residents of Houston enjoy what you could call “recycled” water sent down the Trinity River from their neighbors to the north in Dallas. It works for them, so why not do it everywhere we need water? “In Israel, more than 80 percent of household wastewater is recycled, providing nearly half the water for irrigation,” Yu writes. “A new pilot plant near San Diego and a national “NEWater” program in Singapore show it’s practical to turn wastewater into water that’s clean enough to drink. Yet, in most of the world, we are resistant to do so.”

You can watch the video above, which is culled from clips from a forthcoming documentary, Last Call at the Oasis.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »