wastewater reuse

The language here is so delicate, which is in itself an interesting issue:

It is now possible to imagine a future in which highly treated wastewater will be plumbed directly into California homes as a new drinking water supply.

That’s Matt Weiser on California’s next big step in institutionally normalizing “direct potable reuse” – the treatment of wastewater and its reintroduction directly into our drinking water.

This is a live question right now for colleagues here at the University of New Mexico where one of our water faculty, Caroline Scruggs, has been spearheading research into questions of public acceptance of DPR. The water policy questions are complicated – issues of public acceptance, questions of where the wastewater is going now (in the ocean? into a river where the reuse is already happening downstream?).

In California, where treated effluent is often disposed of directly to the ocean, current questions of water scarcity are driving a robust discussion. Matt’s story outlines the next big step – the beginnings of the establishment of a regulatory framework governing DPR.

An important next step.


  1. As a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Water Task, now made defunct by Gov. Martinez, I urge state and municipal governments to consider using treated effluent as a source of water. Alas there was little support. Santa Fe my re-use some of its effluent in the near future. It makes sense.

  2. Of course in the Mississippi River system downstream cities use some water that went thru sewers upstream. In fact by the time you get to New Orleans it is a fairly high percent (likewise on tributaries). Not that its 100 % but it is some of the water. Upstream cities take water from the river above town and put the treated effluent into the river below the city.

  3. It seems like the first step would make it possible to use the treated water for irrigation, watering yards, etc. Just the talk of it might cause a spike in use of bottled water.

Comments are closed.