As a scientist, I’m amazed this is even being debated.
Residents of a drought-stricken Australian town will vote this week on whether they’re prepared to drink water recycled from sewage — the first such scheme in the country and one of only a handful in the world.
The controversial proposal has divided the town of Toowoomba in the state of Queensland, which has faced water restrictions for a decade.
Local Mayor Dianne Thorley, who is leading the “Yes” campaign, said that without drought-breaking rains the town’s dams could dry up within two years.
She insisted the 73 million dollar (US 55 million dollar) plan to pump purified wastewater back into the main reservoir for drinking was safe.
“Somewhere, sometime we have got to stand up and change the way we are doing things,” she told AFP as the town prepared for the July 29 referendum.
“Otherwise our great grandchildren are going to be living in something like the Sahara desert.”
A vocal “No” campaign opposes the proposal, and says there are unforeseeable health risks for the town’s 100,000 residents.
“The scientists say it should be safe,” said local councillor Keith Beer, one of three members of the nine-strong council that opposes the plan. “That is not good enough for me, for my kids and my grandkids.”
For those of you cringing out there, I have some bad news for you. Every drop of water you’ve ever consumed has been recycled sewerage. Yes, even that fancy French bottled stuff.
Water, like everything in life, has a cycle. That coffee you consumed this morning was dinosaur excrement at one time. I live at the bottom of the Mississippi river. I don’t need to tell you what I drink every day.
We’re so self-deluded. We’ll dump treated sewerage effluent into a natural body of water then we’ll later use that same body of water as an input for a municipal system… But if you try to hook one to the other, people freak. What do they think happens in the middle and why don’t they think we can reproduce it?
A closed system is actually safer as there is less chance of accidental contamination by toxins.
I understand it’s “icky” to many people but closed (actually they’re semi-closed) systems make infinitely more sense.