California's Drought Is So Bad, They're Drinking Toilet Water

Illustration for article titled Californias Drought Is So Bad, Theyre Drinking Toilet Water

At this point, we all know that California's superdrought is bad—really bad. We don't yet know how Californians are going to cope with the consequences. According to a recent billion dollar allocation of taxpayer money for water recycling programs, drinking toilet water is one way.

Don't throw up quite yet. Water recycling refers the process by which municipalities process wastewater so that it's okay to drink. It's a very safe, very clean process and might even produce water that's cleaner than what's coming out of your tap. It is, however, still water that once dwelled in the bottom of a toilet bowl. Critics refer to the practice of recycling wastewater as "toilet-to-tap."

Nevertheless, certain parts of California are already operating water recycling programs, and the influx of funds means more will soon join them. Orange County, for example, pumps out 7 million gallons of recycled wastewater every day. If you've been to the OC recently, you probably drank some toilet water. No big deal! The recycling process actually churns out pure H2O. Thanks to reverse osmosis, it's literally impossible for any little bits of poop to make it through.

Illustration for article titled Californias Drought Is So Bad, Theyre Drinking Toilet Water

The hang up, of course, is a psychological one. In the past two decades, massive water recycling programs in San Diego and Los Angeles have been abandoned simply because people thought it was gross. As these droughts have been getting worse, though, some are warming to the idea. A 2012 poll showed that 73 percent of San Diegans would be drink recycled wastewater, a complete reversal from 2004 when 63 percent said they would not drink it.

Californians better get used to the idea, though. This drought is far from over, and the state needs everything it can get. Since a billion gallons of treated wastewater are dumped into the Pacific Ocean every year, it just makes sense to talk people into drinking it. Heck if astronauts can do it, so can you. [SacBee via National Journal]

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Peter Larson

Water? Like out of the toilet?