From Sewage to Tap
February 8, 2017
Turning wastewater into drinking water – why, how and… gross or not?There is widespread speculation that the next world war will not be fought over power, land or any political ideology, but rather access to clean drinking water to quench the insatiable thirst of our growing population. The solution – recycling sewage to make it safe for drinking. The mere idea of drinking sewage water might sound revolting but rest assured that there is a vast difference between raw sewage and thoroughly treated and purified water. If one considers that water is a finite resource that has always been, and is constantly being, reused, the idea might not seem too strange. Fun fact: we are still drinking the same water that was drunk by the dinosaurs. Stigma aside, recycling wastewater is already taking place to varying degrees across the world.
- In South Africa, treated sewage is discharged into rivers, which then ends up in dams from where water is extracted and treated to potable standards before being sent to our taps at home. You are therefore already drinking recycled water to varying degrees.
- In California, USA, water goes through various treatment and purification stages. Tertiary-treated water, called recycled water, is used in agricultural and industrial applications. The unused tertiary-treated undergoes more treatment for indirect potable reuse, which is included in drinking water.
- Singapore, having no natural aquifers and very little land, struggles to provide safe, sustainable drinking water to its residents. In 2003, they launched NEWater, recycled drinking water that has been purified through advanced membrane techniques.
- In Namibia, water has been recycled for drinking purposes since 1969. This process currently produces 35% of the water in Windhoek.