They say the West Coast and specifically California leads major trends that overcome the greater U.S. and the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than the region’s conservation of water. Long known for wasting water with lawns, pools and golf courses, parts of the West are now recycling and conserving water in the face of one of its longest droughts in recent years, four years and still counting.
And no one expects significant help to come to either California or other Western states in 2015. This year is shaping up in the entire world to be the warmest on record. Even if the Western states of the U.S. face a strong El Nino that will bring a lot of rain, the rest of the world should have another record year of heat. March, May and June 2015 have each set monthly “hottest” records. This puts the first half of the year in the record category for the entire world.
Actually drinking recycled water is gaining adherents in the face of the drought. While recycled sewage water has been used for more than a decade in San Jose and Santa Clara for irrigating golf courses, landscaping and industrial purposes, it is now being proposed as drinking water for the populace. San Jose and Santa Clara mayors drank a glass of recycled sewage water in April of 2015. They argued it is time to mix the recycled water with the normal water supply and serve it back to the population of both cities.
This is a new option that is being inserted between consuming surface water and water table or underground aquifers. Our technology is now offering us another way of postponing our depletion of fresh water sources.
We completely agree and suggest this become the predominate option to postpone the looming water shortage worldwide. We believe that the reuse or recycling of sewage water for drinking is an absolute necessity that will significantly slow our use of our most critical asset, our water table. The rest of this article will further describe the problem this addresses.
Fully recycled water has been added to the normal water supply in a number of cities including Wichita Falls and Big Springs, Texas. This remixing of recycled water with drinking water has also been used since 2008 in Orange County, California. A June 2015 article in The Star states, “The Orange County Water District began filtering treated sewage water in a three-pronged process – purifying it through reverse osmosis and ultraviolet – and infusing it into aquifers. It remains there for a year before being pumped into the drinking water system.”
Recycled water has long been used for non-drinking purposes. The City of Los Angeles has been reusing water for irrigation since the 1990’s. A few cities in Australia have been using recycled water for irrigation and experimenting with the drinking of former sewage water.
Of course cities around the world are seeing their surface water disappear. With the absence of rain, the melting of high mountain glaciers and the falling levels of stored water in lakes and reservoirs, cities around the world are using up their sources of surface water.
Cities such as Las Vegas are putting in lower access pipes to their major water source and the U.S.’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. Lake Mead’s water is down to a level of 1,080 feet. The Lake’s water level drop is equal to the width of a football field, down from a high of 1,225 feet in 1983. Since the year 2000 this represents a reduction of almost 4 trillion gallons of water. The problem is the projected level of 1,075 feet in January of 2016 would cause cutbacks in water use in Arizona and Nevada.
At 1,000 feet the water intakes to Lake Mead from Las Vegas will run dry denying the City of Las Vegas almost all of its drinking water. This reality is causing the Southern Nevada Water Authority to spend in excess of $800 million to build a lower, new access pipe to Lake Mead. This access pipe would be twenty feet in diameter. This adds more water resources for a city that already reuses 93% of its water for irrigation and non-drinking purposes.
Cities are now using their underground water to a greater degree to make up for shortages. They are using their underground water for irrigation and drinking. This is a worldwide problem. Unfortunately these underground natural water tables or aquifers require a much longer time for replenishment. Large swaths of the Earth are running out of water.
In a nutshell our natural tendency is to run out of surface drinking water, then to use underground sources and then, as a final option, to recycle our water and reuse sewage water. Because this underground water in the natural aquifer takes so long to replenish, sometimes hundreds or thousands of years, it must be the last option we choose.
We must recycle our water and drink former sewage water immediately to protect our underground aquifers as the last option for a thirsty planet. In this our astronauts are once again showing us the way. In space, they have been recycling their own water for many, many years.
This article celebrates the mayors of cities all over the world that take the lead encouraging their citizens to recycle and drink the resulting water. We also salute the astronauts of the world who led the way we all need to go.
Use the following links to obtain additional information or access the original documents used to prepare this article.