Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Converting sewage into drinking water

With major water shortages already here and worse droughts looming, the prospect of recycling gray water keeps coming up. Will Americans manage to overcome the “Ew!” factor? Recovering wastewater doesn't present major technical problems, but the esthetics seem to bother many.

Science Daily reports on an article called "Treating Sewage For Drinking Water," which should appear in the January 28 issue of Chemical & Engineering News: C&EN Associate Editor Jyllian Kemsley notes in the article that some communities have used recycled wastewater for decades to replenish their drinking water supplies and wastewater often finds agricultural use for irrigation. Droughts, environmental concerns, and population growth now are forcing water utilities to consider adapting or expanding the practice, Kemsley explains.

Earlier in January, for instance, California approved operation of the Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF), the largest water reclamation plant in the nation. It will yield 70 million gallons per day of drinkable water from sewage. That's about 10 percent of the district's daily water demand for its 2.3 million residents. Although AWPF's purification process is complex, it produces clean, pure water that meets or exceeds all drinking water standards, the article notes.

Photo by Prawdapunk (Wikimedia Commons)

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