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Reclaimed Wastewater: The Next Brita?

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Photo Credit Thinkstock

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Less than 1 percent of the water on earth is available for human consumption. Water is a limited resource that we rely so heavily on and its use has tripled within the past 50 years. Therefore, we must be more conservative and figure out additional ways to acquire it, such as possibly recycling sewage water.

What measures are being taken in order to ensure we never run out of water? Water purification plants are being developed in order to purify wastewater from sewage. It is considered to be clean and safe, more so than water from our faucets and the bottles of water at the grocery store. However, at the locations where these purification plants are already being utilized, such as Santa Clara County in California, the public refuses to drink the final product.

The water is filtered in a highly advanced way that is able to remove pharmaceuticals, personal care products and pesticides. In areas that do not recycle wastewater, the water filled with the untreated medications, personal care products, etc. would otherwise go into our oceans, lakes and bays. However, that seems to be of less concern to the public. We may not directly consume the untreated water, but we do when we eat a fish fillet.

As the human population continues to grow and we continue to pollute our water sources, we must be more accepting of ways to obtain enough water to sustain ourselves. If we are not comfortable with making pure, fresh water from our sewage, then perhaps we should stop polluting our water in the first place but that seems highly unlikely. We are finding ways to take away the damage we are causing and utilizing our resources in an efficient manner; we just have to become more open minded. 



Senior research analyst Eric Meliton of Frost & Sullivan states that in order for reclaimed wastewater to be a true solution to water shortage issues, “perception needs to be changed.” Right now, the usage of these plants “depends on comfort level and need” of the public because of the psychological aspect that we are consuming what used to be wastewater is getting in the way. However, this purified water is safe and it is already being used in various parts of the world, including Singapore and the Middle East. 



Reclaimed wastewater has the potential to solve issues concerning water shortages in drought-prone areas and mitigate water pollution. However, change seems to scare people the most. But as the human population continues to grow and climate change continues to cause frequent droughts, reclaimed water may one day be the norm. 

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Stephanie Siemek is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.

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