Would you drink recycled urine? Residents of Big Spring, Texas may not have a choice--the local water district is breaking ground this year on a $13 million treatment plant that will direct 2 million gallons per day of thoroughly cleaned sewage back into the regular water system. It's a practical solution for a drought-stricken state that is hunting for water wherever it can.
It's not as if wastewater recycling is a new idea. Texas has, in fact, used  reclaimed water for over a century. But generally, the recycled water doesn't go to the tap; it's used in parks, golf courses, outdoor fountains, and more. The state has plenty of indirect sewage recycling plants--one of the newer plants filters wastewater through a wetland before sending it out to the facilities that want this so-called "raw water".
In contrast, the Big Spring plant will use sewage that has already gone through a traditional wastewater treatment plant, clean it out further, and combine it in a pipeline with lake water before sending it out to be used by residents in their sinks, toilets, and showers. This is, according to KDAF-TV , the first plant of its kind in the state--and one of the only plants like it in the country.
Los Angeles, another drought-prone city, is working on a similar system--a $700 million plan  to purify up to 30,000 acre-feet of treated wastewater each year, or 5% of the city's annual water use. Orange County already has a "toilet to tap" system in place, and Singapore actually sells  bottled water that comes from its treated wastewater plants. Delicious.
These projects will become increasingly common as droughts increase . So you might as well get used to it; you're going to be drinking pee soon. Recycled wastewater is coming to a tap near you--if it isn't there already.
[Image: Flickr user markhillary ]