Sunday, February 13, 2011

WATER WATER

So this doesn't have to do with baseball or athletics exactly, but this is my argument for the use of reclaimed water... Which I think should be used in stadiums, therefore is very relevant!


“Toilet NOT to Tap”

Water reclamation and reuse cannot be described as “Toilet to Tap.”  If someone is going to subject reclamation, a perfectly viable solution to California’s water shortage problems, to immense criticism, they must give its description proper justice.  “Toilet to Tap” is far too simple and provides people with a negative image of water reclamation.  Instead, the process should be referred to as “Toilet to Bar Screen to Grit Chamber to Aeration Tank to Secondary Clarifier to Microfiltration to Reverse Osmosis to UV Disinfection to Chlorine Contact Chamber to Aquifer or Natural Water Supply back to Typical Drinking Water Treatment to Tap; or as we in the acronym-loving world of water like to call it: T.B.S.G.C.A.T.S.C.M.R.O.U.V.D.C.C.C.A.N.W.S.T.T..
Water reclamation and reuse, or Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR), carries with it what many reports have deemed the “yuk” factor.  The general public envisions IPR as sending waste water straight back through the plumbing and around to be used again, a cycle which would be quite “yucky”.  The process is not nearly that simple though.  Currently, all sewage and waste water is filtered and treated in two stages before being dumped back into different water outlets.  This cleaning process was put in place in order to protect marine ecosystems and control water quality.  Water intended for potable use goes through an additional rigorous stage of treatment that creates an end product more pure than the water found in nature and our plumbing systems.
Waste water that has been treated to secondary, non-potable standards, and is deposited into natural sources like rivers, lakes, and oceans, then goes through the hydrologic cycle where its chances of eventually being used again as potable water are relatively high.  Without trying, waste water eventually ends up at our taps over and over again; IPR just speeds up the process. 
The waste water that has been treated to a tertiary level, making it more pure than what is thought of as “virgin water” from natural fresh sources, still does not head for the taps.  It is next deposited into water sources like aquifers or rivers, places where drinking water is drawn from.  The newly and quickly treated water is mixed with the water that has naturally landed itself in our water supply, creating a mix that has its own ecological benefits (decreasing salt water intrusion, for example).  Water that we draw for potable uses from natural springs, lakes, and rivers is still not ready for consumption.  Depending on its source, it goes through various treatments of its own until it meets health standards and is safe to drink.  This means that the reclaimed waste water, that was already more pure than a lot of drinking water, goes through even more treatment before it finally enters potable plumbing lines leading to the tap.
In summary, using, and even drinking, recycled water is not something to be feared or associated with the word “yucky”; and “Toilet to Tap” inadequately describes the reclamation process. All water that is sent through potable plumbing lines is held to the same health and quality regulations.  Water is not an infinite resource that regenerates new molecules.  We have the same water molecules the earth started with and will not be getting any new ones. Indirect Potable Reuse simply speeds up the natural filtration processes that water goes through in the hydrologic cycle so that it can be used again much sooner.  With growing populations and impending climate change that will have unknown affects on water supply, it is time to utilize the technology available to ensure that the earth’s 3% of available fresh water does not become exhausted and we do not go thirsty.