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Drought-Stricken Texas Town Taps Urine For Water

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the it's-important-to-stay-hydrated dept.

Earth 300

An anonymous reader writes "Texas is in the midst of a drought so severe that local water management teams have decided to distribute reclaimed wastewater (aka urine). The Colorado River Municipal Water District in West Texas has broken ground on a $13 million plant that will capture treated wastewater and ready it for redistribution. After being run through microfilters and undergoing reverse osmosis, slimy sewage is cleansed with peroxide and ultraviolet light. This intense process ensures that any pharmaceuticals and carcinogens are removed, and that the H2O stands up to drinking water regulations."

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Drinking wanter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37022960)

No arsenic in there?
Does it the water burn when it gets out the tap?
If none of the above, it ain't real US tap water.

Re:Drinking wanter? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023528)

This is TEXAS! We don't have a drought, we just have a God-induced anti-flood. He loves us SO much he wants to show us that, unlike in the age of Noah when a flood was the only thing that would wash the world clean of the heathens that overran it, we are SO loved by our Lord that he has taken away all of the water in a demonstration of how safe we are here on our planet!

Climate change? That's for those Pussies in Seattle.

PISS ON TEXAS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023604)

not even frosty...

Bear Grylls (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37022968)

Bear Grylls is happy to have this first post and taste!

Re:Bear Grylls (1)

residieu (577863) | about 3 years ago | (#37023294)

The first time I saw his show, the Cable Box described the episode as "Bear escapes from a burning vehicle." I was so disappointed when I actually put it on.

Re:Bear Grylls (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37023834)

It sounds like you watched his recent show Worst-Case Scenario [imdb.com] , which was a bit naff. He is better known for the far superior Man vs. Wild [imdb.com] . It is worth giving that one a try.

Re:Bear Grylls (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 3 years ago | (#37023846)

He is better known for the highly staged Man vs. Wild.

FTFY.

Re:Bear Grylls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023368)

Bear Grylls wants to taste it as it ENTERS the plant not when it EXITS.

Re:Bear Grylls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023436)

Drought in Texas? Better drink my own piss.

Re:Bear Grylls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023444)

speaking of unpleasant things to contemplate

why do so many obese black women smell like stale marshmallows? not all of them do just most. so it might be some perfume they wear or something. but why is smelling like a big stale marshmallow something they work to achieve?

it is not the sour milk smell of fat people who just can't properly clean themselves between all the crevices and rolls of fat. it is something different tho not much more plesant.

Re:Bear Grylls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023634)

Which will turn out to be orange juice, since his show is all faked.

If your town gets its water from a river... (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 3 years ago | (#37022980)

...then you're drinking filtered sewage anyway.

Not news.

--
BMO

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37023210)

...then you're drinking filtered sewage anyway.

Not news.

--
BMO

Wells are also fundamentally the same concept.

I suppose if you reclaimed some cometary ice, it might be "organic free"... or maybe not.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 3 years ago | (#37023300)

Consider how much water you use during a day that goes down a drain (shower, laundry, dishes, flushing toilets, etc). Compare that to how much water you drink a day. That puts an upper bound on how much "urine" you're looking at.

Most wastewater treatment plants put water back in the river that's cleaner than the rest of the river, anyway. Environmental regulations and the like.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#37023496)

If they're turning to urine, given it's relatively insignificant volume, then that tells you how bad the drought is there.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about 3 years ago | (#37023556)

They're not turning to just urine, they're using all waste water.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 years ago | (#37023590)

Consider how much water you use during a day that goes down a drain (shower, laundry, dishes, flushing toilets, etc). Compare that to how much water you drink a day. That puts an upper bound on how much "urine" you're looking at.

Most wastewater treatment plants put water back in the river that's cleaner than the rest of the river, anyway. Environmental regulations and the like.

That doesnt stop it from being piss... Did you know that water leaving via the wastewater plan is never actually filtered? Just rendered into clearer and clearer forms via patience and a few odd chemicals along the way. To get it back out and turn it to drinking water the same rules apply; no filters, just time and a few parts per million of chlorine. All that piss must be in there *somewhere*. Don't forget, animals have been drinking water for millions of years. The odds that the H20 you are drinking right now weren't peed out of some creature at some time are pretty low.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (2, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#37023322)

What would be news is if the USA would get their heads out of their asses regarding greywater systems [greywateraction.org] . I tried to see about getting one set up in my house only to be shown a local ordinance (they seem to be just about universal round my state) banning them because it LESSENS usage of the sewer system. The bullshit reason given was that they are worried about the sewer system "drying out" and developing problems if the water levels in the sewer pipes "get too low." Meanwhile, they altered the rates to a tiered system so that if you use an average amount of water (enough even to keep your foundation from cracking and shifting [foundationrepairs.com] you wind up paying the excessively high "overuse" rate, ostensibly to "encourage people to use less water".

Yes, that's right. I can't install a system to use greywater to water my lawn and garden plants because the local water monopoly (bought and paid for a decade ago when the Republicans took over my county and sold off the public utility to private hands) want to FORCE ME TO USE MORE WATER and bribed the local government to pass an anti-greywater ordinance.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023398)

so put one in now... and don't tell them.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023412)

First I've ever heard of *wanting* water against a foundation. I suppose down south you guys have different problems than us up north. Here we do everything and anything to get water as far away as fast as possible.

As far as not having water in sewers causing problems, I don't know how municipal sewers work. I do know that if you don't have fresh water going into your sewer pipes at home the traps will dry out and you will fill your house with sewer gas. I wonder how many of the city sewers work that way in your area?

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (1)

ender- (42944) | about 3 years ago | (#37023560)

First I've ever heard of *wanting* water against a foundation. I suppose down south you guys have different problems than us up north. Here we do everything and anything to get water as far away as fast as possible.

It's not so much that we want 'standing water' at the foundation. The issue is the soil. Down here [I'm in the DFW area] the soil is mostly clay. So when it gets wet it expands, and when it dries out, it contracts considerably. As an example, within the space of about 2 months, I watched a sidewalk slab move a good 1.5" away from a driveway slab because the ground dried out.

A constant cycle of expanding and contracting is hell on a concrete foundation, which is standard in these parts. So many people set up a trickle hose around the house and attempt to keep the soil around the foundation at some constant level of wetness to prevent their foundation from cracking.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#37023572)

The reason to water the ground around your foundation is to keep it from shrinking and expanding constantly as it gets wet and dries out which causes your foundation to rise and fall and eventually cause issues. This is why you water around that area to keep the soil in a more consistent state and it keeps your foundation in better shape too.

Re:If your town gets its water from a river... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023714)

First I've ever heard of *wanting* water against a foundation. I suppose down south you guys have different problems than us up north. Here we do everything and anything to get water as far away as fast as possible.

As far as not having water in sewers causing problems, I don't know how municipal sewers work. I do know that if you don't have fresh water going into your sewer pipes at home the traps will dry out and you will fill your house with sewer gas. I wonder how many of the city sewers work that way in your area?

If you think thats weird, you should see what they do with their COWS!

But seriously, this is common in areas with literally months of little/no precipitation (half/more the rain in Texas comes from the half dozen or so hurricanes each year, and hurricane season aint that long). The sewers suffer the same fate, if they arent "watered" by keeping some moisture in the pipes and dribbling out at all times they could be severely damaged. What stinks is that they basically leave it up to chance that residents happen to be using enough water (by force, no less) and not employ some better system of retaining water for that purpose. What if too many people in one district just happen to go on vacation at the same time?

Asparagus (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | about 3 years ago | (#37022998)

This sounds logical but I would only drink this water if this process can really get the asparagus smell out of the urine. Have you noticed how nasty that is?

Re:Asparagus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023070)

Interestingly enough not everyone can. It turns out that being able to detect the smell is a genetic variation.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus#Urine_effects for an overview.

Re:Asparagus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023456)

I assumed it was just an extension of the nastiness that is asparagus.

Already used on space missions? (3, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 3 years ago | (#37023006)

I assume this is similar to recycling systems used for space missions? Don't they also recycle waste for H20?

Re:Already used on space missions? (4, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | about 3 years ago | (#37023334)

They should bottle and market it. First we had astronaut ice cream. Now we have astronaut water!

Re:Already used on space missions? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 3 years ago | (#37023504)

Replying to undo accidental moderation. I meant +1 funny. :-)

Re:Already used on space missions? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37023512)

They should bottle and market it. First we had astronaut ice cream. Now we have astronaut water!

The funeral industry could follow the Dune / Arrakis model... anything to make the cost of death higher...

Re:Already used on space missions? (2)

cream wobbly (1102689) | about 3 years ago | (#37023636)

No, it's similar to the water reclamation systems used all across Europe. Rocket science is considerably simpler.

Stupid article get promoted to frontpage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023028)

By stupid editors to make readers more stupid.

More and more slashdot slides into useless media territory.

shouldn't this be the norm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023036)

we should do this everywhere. if it gets filtered through lakes, rivers, the ground etc. all water is "reclaimed."

Re:shouldn't this be the norm (1)

residieu (577863) | about 3 years ago | (#37023350)

Depends on how much energy it takes. In many places, it's probably still cheaper to take it from wells and lakes/reservoirs. This is an inevitable necessity, though, at some point few places will have enough fresh water to provide for their populations.

About time. (5, Informative)

cusco (717999) | about 3 years ago | (#37023038)

About bloody time that some city in the US starts doing this. Did you know that the outflow from the Los Angeles sewage treatment plant is actually cleaner than the water that they pump (at ridiculous cost) over the mountains to the potable water intake?

The capital of Botswana has been doing this since the 1960s. Nice to know that Texas is finally catching up to sub-Saharan Africa.

Re:About time. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023246)

...and the evidence that the US is turning into a Third World Country mounts everyday!

Jumping intermediate steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023578)

I think you're looking into the wrong end of the water pipe, AC. Some developing countries jumped right from "few telephones" right to widespread cellular technology, leaping right over the Age of Copper. Filtering water to an objectively clean standard is a smart idea. (I might also invite you Texas readers to come to Pennsylvania, where water is plentiful.)

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023266)

Nice to know that Texas is finally catching up to sub-Saharan Africa.

Indeed Texans envy those Africans on a daily basis. They are migrating to Africa in droves due to their superior drinking water.

Is it someone's full-time job to find every positive story and post a disparaging remark? Every time there is a story that says "Person X has has done something good" there is a reply that disparages them because someone else has already done that, or they should have started sooner, or they haven't gone far enough.

Headline: Joe is now using dry-cleaning to clean his carpets, instead of the old wet-vac approach. This method uses less water and is better for the environment.
Obligatory Slashdot reply: It is about time! Jane did this years ago, Joe should envy Jane! Joe is just now catching up to Jane? Bah!

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023614)

Indeed Texans envy those Africans on a daily basis. They are migrating to Africa in droves due to their superior drinking water.

If I lived in Texas I would seriously consider moving to Africa too.

Re:About time. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023364)

Did you know that the outflow from the Los Angeles sewage treatment plant is actually cleaner than the water that they pump (at ridiculous cost) over the mountains to the potable water intake?

I've just returned to Europe from the USA. The water quality in LA was awful. Quite easily the worst tasting "potable" water I've ever had, and that's my experience of numerous countries (1st to 3rd world) around the globe, across 5 continents. Congrats LA.

Also, if you have such a water problem over there... how about replacing your heavily watered lawns with rock gardens or some other less water intensive feature? I couldn't get over the level of waste of good water. Then there's the energy usage, but let's not go there for now.

Re:About time. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 3 years ago | (#37023380)

About bloody time that some city in the US starts doing this. Did you know that the outflow from the Los Angeles sewage treatment plant is actually cleaner than the water that they pump (at ridiculous cost) over the mountains to the potable water intake?

By what definition of cleaner? How are different contaminents weighted? are there any contaminents that neither the water processing system or the wastewater processing system can remove and so would build up cycle by cycle in a closed loop system? Can those contaminents be removed with special processing? if so how does that special processing impact the economy of the process? if not what limit does this place on the proportion of water that can be safely recycled to keep overall quality acceptable?

Re:About time. (3, Informative)

ATestR (1060586) | about 3 years ago | (#37023582)

Don't know what he means in this particular case, but when engineers talks about contaminants in water, they are usually talking about bacterial counts as well as nitrates and other dissolved compounds. Sanitary waste water (in most of US) has to be cleaned to certain standards as far as bacterial counts as well as nitrate levels before it can be released to streams/rivers, or reused as "reclaimed" water, usually for irrigation.

Any water used for water systems (drinking water) must be cleaned to an even higher standard before use. Unless you source is a mountain spring (not a creek!), you are almost certain to have to process it before use. The original poster's point was that often the incoming water is less sanitary than the discharge water of a sewage treatment plant.

Come to think of it, I saw a documentary about the canal/pipe system that supplies LA a few weeks ago. I can readily believe that that water isn't too clean.

Re:About time. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 3 years ago | (#37023782)

The original poster's point was that often the incoming water is less sanitary than the discharge water of a sewage treatment plant.

And my point is that just because the outgoing water is "cleaner" (e.g. gets a lower contaminantion score on whatever unspecified weighted list of contaminents the study looked at) doesn't mean you won't have problems if you "close the loop".

That doesn't mean you can't recycle water, it just means you have to be extra specially careful to make sure nasty chemicals don't build up over multiple cycles by adding extra special checks at the recycling plant and/or by ensuring that you have good mixing of recycled and virgin water.

Re:About time. (1)

flink (18449) | about 3 years ago | (#37023824)

What about pharmaceuticals that are excreted in urine or carcinogenic chemicals that are poured down the drain? I imagine that many of those compounds are small enough to pass through an osmotic filter.

Re:About time. (1)

Dynedain (141758) | about 3 years ago | (#37023774)

By every definition of cleaner. My wife has drank that water on a tour of the facility after her company completed construction of it.

Most regions in the US have laws preventing reclaimed water from being used in potable water systems.

Re:About time. (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | about 3 years ago | (#37023408)

If "catching up" requires environmental changes that cause massive amounts of resources to be devoted to simply providing clean fresh-water instead of having it in abundance for free like most of the U.S. I'd damn well prefer to stay behind and have that time and money be used towards other pursuits.

Re:About time. (1)

Tridus (79566) | about 3 years ago | (#37023460)

Unfortunately here in reality, Texas doesn't have enough water to meet its needs that easily. This is a problem most of the planet suffers and that the US has been avoiding due to having abundant water for a while. But the party is coming to an end.

This is nothing new (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#37023706)

Arizona has been doing this for a long time. For the most part, the water treatment is less intense and it is distributed through a separate, non-potable system to be used for irrigation. Makes sense since it is cheaper (requires less filtration). However some of it is filtered further, and mixed in with water from wells and the CAP to go in to the drinking water.

Fish have been shitting in my water for years (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#37023048)

Like your drinking water isn't already the toilet for fish, birds, and god-knows what other wildlife. Get over yourself, Sally.

Re:Fish have been shitting in my water for years (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 3 years ago | (#37023148)

and yet people still swim in public pools full of piss.

Re:Fish have been shitting in my water for years (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#37023678)

I don't drink water. Fish "function" in it. - W.C. Fields.

BRAWNDO HAS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 years ago | (#37023710)

you mean water, like in the toilet?

That's how bad the situation is... (2)

uzd4ce (1916592) | about 3 years ago | (#37023082)

That it's being considered really shows how bad the drought situation in Texas is. I'm sure the quality of the water will be fine, but for people to mentally get over the stigma requires some serious problem that needs to be addressed. Pretty much the whole state is "hell" and relief does not seem anywhere in the distant future: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html [noaa.gov]

Re:That's how bad the situation is... (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 3 years ago | (#37023176)

The problem is only being exacerbated by this extremely warm summer this year as well. There aren't many lawns left in my neighborhood anymore. I haven't had to cut my grass in almost a month.

Re:That's how bad the situation is... (1)

residieu (577863) | about 3 years ago | (#37023384)

I haven't had to cut my grass in almost a month.

Sounds like a benefit, then. When I get a house, i'm installing astro-turf for my lawn. I hate mowing.

Re:That's how bad the situation is... (2)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37023666)

Sounds like a benefit, then. When I get a house, i'm installing astro-turf for my lawn. I hate mowing.

You're on the same path as I was many years ago. What I discovered along the way about astroturf:

Astroturf lawns literally stink from bird / animal waste, and try to turn themselves back into soil/turf unless you use almost as much water to clean them as you would to water a regular lawn, unless you live in AZ or TX or something where you'd practically need a waterfall to keep the lawn damp. So astroturf is only a net water win if you live in a desert and the HOA bans xeriscapes because its too cheap (legally enforced conspicuous consumption, etc)

Also astroturf is remarkably expensive. More expensive than most other outdoor groundcover at the time I researched.

If you're trying to avoid mowing, put in paver bricks if you like pulling weeds out of the decorative cracks between the bricks, or put in poured concrete patio if you like looking at random shrinkage / settling cracks. Also structures like decks kill most of the plants underneath them by shading.

The local govt building permit requirements and exception processes warp the market so much, its almost not worth discussing across political boundaries.

Re:That's how bad the situation is... (1, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#37023712)

I think what I'll do is develop a grass that only grows an inch and a quarter tall, and then retire on the hush-money from lawn mower companies.

Re:That's how bad the situation is... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 3 years ago | (#37023238)

What exactly do people think happens to waste water? If your water comes out of a river or lake, unless you happen to be at the headwaters....

Rick Peery Ad (3, Funny)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37023092)

See! Were having to drink our own piss. Do you really want Rick Peery for president?!?

Re:Rick Peery Ad (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 3 years ago | (#37023896)

See! Were having to drink our own piss. Do you really want Rick Perry for president?!?

Cheapskate Republicans would rather let children and the elderly drink their own piss than spend a paltry billion or two on orgone cloudbusters.

Dude. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023154)

Dude... astronauts drink their own pee. The people of texas can, too!
www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023168)

I know it's probably nothing too far from what we get now anyway, but still, I threw up in my mouth a little...

Lack of strategic planning (3, Insightful)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 3 years ago | (#37023178)

It's amazing to me that this type of thing only gets implemented due to a crisis when it should be obvious from the get go that developing and improving the methods of recycling and reclamation should always be part of the way we do anything.

Re:Lack of strategic planning (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37023370)

It's amazing to me that this type of thing only gets implemented due to a crisis when it should be obvious from the get go that developing and improving the methods of recycling and reclamation should always be part of the way we do anything.

Not everywhere...

I'm currently sitting less than a mile upwind of one of the great lakes... The energy requirement for this sewage filtration process has a far larger environmental impact than just regular sewage treatment combined with pumping a bit more water out of the lake. We could probably reduce out draw out of the lake 50% with this technology, at the mere cost of kilotons of extra fly ash and mercury dumped into the lake from our coalburners ... the same lake we're getting our drinking water out of...

California / desert SW solutions are not appropriate everywhere. If anything, on average, east of the mississippi river, we have way too much fresh water and need to focus tech on dealing with floods caused by rain. Much like fixing failing school systems or sick care systems, just dumping more money on the problem doesn't seem to help.

Re:Lack of strategic planning (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37023650)

Much like fixing failing school systems or sick care systems, just dumping more money on the problem doesn't seem to help.

Nonsense! Much like school systems and healthcare, the answer lies with a standardized federal process! The only solution is The One solution, and it is best for all!

Taking the piss ... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 3 years ago | (#37023182)

If they aren't, I will!

more stupidity (1, Insightful)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 3 years ago | (#37023186)

Drinking wastewater makes as much sense as watering your lawn with potable water.

Re:more stupidity (1)

Piata (927858) | about 3 years ago | (#37023276)

Good sir, are you suggesting I piss on my lawn?

Re:more stupidity (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37023312)

Well, it does have plenty of Nitrogen, which is something plants like. You may want to dilute it a bit, though.

Re:more stupidity (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37023432)

Well, it does have plenty of Nitrogen, which is something plants like. You may want to dilute it a bit, though.

Dilution... finally a purpose exists for American "lite" beer...

Re:more stupidity (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 3 years ago | (#37023734)

Dilution... finally a purpose exists for American "lite" beer...

Do you mean to say we should water our lawns with a mixture of Bud and piss? Why would anyone be so cruel with their own grass?

Re:more stupidity (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37023688)

Most people drink treated waste water. By the time the Mississippi gets to New Orleans, that water has been past many major cities, all drawing from it and dumping into it.

Re:more stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023750)

In other words, both are perfectly reasonable?

If I was a resident (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023234)

I would be pissed.

Any sign of un-magical thinking is welcome... (1)

John Guilt (464909) | about 3 years ago | (#37023302)

...and, yes, I'd wear John Wayne Gacy's sweater, if it were clean, I needed a sweater, and it at-least-sorta fit.

Why put this story in the Idle directory? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | about 3 years ago | (#37023340)

This is definitely "stuff that matters" especially for the people in the affected regions.

Bear Grylls (2)

Das Auge (597142) | about 3 years ago | (#37023346)

If it's good enough for Bear, it's good enough for anyone.

So...when do we start eating raw snakes?

Troll headline? (3, Informative)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | about 3 years ago | (#37023366)

Urine? Well, yes, but also the feces and the nasty water from industry. As someone has pointed out already, if your WTP collects from the river, you are already drinking treated sewage water.

At our plant, we have a water reclamation facility at the end of our process, the same type of facility used at the water treatment plant upstream. A WRF is common, iirc, in CA, but is, afaik, the first of its kind here in MN. It is far more common to discharge without the additional filtering and contaminant removal provided by a WRF.

The water we discharge is tested biweekly for ammonia and phosphorus and daily for total coliforms and biological oxygen demand. Ammonia and coliforms are non-detectable ~99% of the time. We are doing a very good job turning sewage into drinking water for the next town on the river.

/lab intern at a WWTP

Milk is cow piss (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | about 3 years ago | (#37023376)

When I was a kid, I used to think Milk was cow piss and I loved drinking milk. So, for me, I just don't see what the fuss is all about.

Re:Milk is cow piss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023868)

When I was a kid, I used to think Milk was cow piss

Nice way to change the topic to "The dismal state of education in this country"...

This is new? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023420)

They've been recycling piss in the US for years, usually under the name Budweiser...

what do you normally do with your wastewater? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023474)

Huh? You Americans don't clean/recycle/process your waste water?
You just dump your untreated wastewater into the local river, or what?

like sausage-making (1)

swan5566 (1771176) | about 3 years ago | (#37023538)

People want the end product, but no one wants to know how it's made. True in many contexts.

Frankly... (1)

Syberz (1170343) | about 3 years ago | (#37023540)

... this should be done everywhere, not just drought stricken Texas. Water is a precious commodity that needs to be preserved, if we can recycle waste water and reduce the amount taken directly in nature with no adverse effects to us, go for it.

Re:Frankly... (1)

forrie (695122) | about 3 years ago | (#37023642)

Texas is close to the ocean, if they're going to spend money, why not also include desalinization equipment -- plenty of water there.

I also read a couple years ago about a device invented for the military (mostly) that would literally create water out of the air. All of this equipment would be terribly expensive to acquire. However if these weather patterns are to become the "norm", seems like it might be prudent to do so and to continue to think of solutions "outside of the box" of what we typically expect for solutions.

They could augment power constraints with massive solar and wind arrays.

But who's gonna pay for it :-)

Re:Frankly... (1)

japhering (564929) | about 3 years ago | (#37023800)

Texas is close to the ocean, if they're going to spend money, why not also include desalinization equipment -- plenty of water there.

rtfa.. it says West Texas .. depending on the town it could be 1000 miles from the nearest ocean.

Still sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023552)

I have family that lives in Big Spring, Texas and I have been there recently. Their tap water currently has left over crude oil leftovers which leaves it oily, smelly and very undrinkable. Having them build this plant is very wary considering the situation. In either case, it sucks.. no one wants to drink the water.. and no matter the situation.. the town is still getting the short end of a stick.

They should ask South Africa for help (4, Interesting)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 3 years ago | (#37023606)

South Africa, being a dry country, has been doing this for years. All sewage gets sent to treatment farms, where it is cleaned, and the water from it are then placed back in the river systems from where it is used for irrigation, drinking water and everything else - just like rain water.

South Africa also boasts that the water from the treatment plants are cleaner than rain water. My father is an electrical engineer and helped design one of the plants (the electrical systems obviously). The process is quite spectacular - and moreso than what is described here. For starters the first phase includes the sewage being cleaned by specially cultured bacteria to break it down, before chemical cleaning, filtering etc. step by step turns it back into pure H20.
The two main waste products from the process is methane and solid waste. The solid waste is used to create fertilizers. The methane is burned off (being a clean-burning gas) but quite a few people here have converted their cars to run on methane (any gasoline car can be converted) and fill up there - for the moment at least (since the demand is pretty low and they have massive amounts they need to get rid off) the sewage treatment farms don't even charge them. Fill up the car, no cost.

Re:They should ask South Africa for help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023874)

cool technology. But why not burn the methane to generate power for the plant? I've heard of that being done, but the generator is kinda expensive.

Will it be ready by a useful time? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#37023608)

If they just broke ground on it recently, I'm curious to know if it is supposed to be ready before, say, winter.

Of course, being Texas they don't really have winter. Temperatures probably go from "Jesus Christ on roller-skates it's unbearably hot!" to "hey, my face is no longer melting off, but it is still miserably hot!".

West Texas changing tourism slogan to... (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 3 years ago | (#37023624)

"West Texas....URINE for a surprise!"

Unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023652)

Governor Goodhair initiated a three-day prayer for rain back in April. Rain is on the way. You guys just need to have faith.

Late to the party (1)

dthx1138 (833363) | about 3 years ago | (#37023796)

Yawn.. here in Orange County, we've been doing this for over 3 years, because we're getting tired of people from up north bitching about us stealing their water. The plant they constructed near my house pumps out 80 mllion gallons of reclaimed water per day. Anybody who claims they can tell it used to be wastewater is insane.

http://www.slashfood.com/2008/08/13/orange-county-produces-the-worlds-most-recycled-water/ [slashfood.com]

Homesteading Hell (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 3 years ago | (#37023808)

We moved from the gulf coast of Texas (thats enuf hurricanes) to the Hill Country (central) trying to do homesteading and..dont laugh..rainwater collection... 2 years ago. We had grand ideas about farming and becoming self sufficient. In two years here we have had maybe 5-6 inches of rain total and been under burn bans for all but a few months because of the drought. Local cities are under stage 4 restrictions and it is so bad that wild deer are dying on the hoof from nothing to eat and all the vegetation being dead.

We still have the grand ideas, but at the beginning of next month we are moving the plan to Missouri..where it actually rains.

one does not buy water! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023810)

Go read "The Big Thirst", it'll help change how you think about water. If there is one thing we have a weird relationship with, it's water. As a Russian friend used to say, "One does not buy beer, one only rents it." (Nearly?) Every drop of water has been through some biological process in earth's life span -- possibly even the span proposed by the Young Earthers. What's really sad is the expense of cleaning up water to recycle it rather than using the massive evaporative power of the sun; historically that's worked pretty well except for the detail of unequal coverage.

Water World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023844)

You cannot pee into a Mr. Coffee and get Taster's Choice!

Ironic Karma (0)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 3 years ago | (#37023858)

Texas on Tuesday became the first state to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that gases blamed for global warming threaten public health.

Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials said the federal finding is based on flawed science and would harm the state's economy.
The EPA issued the finding two months ago in an attempt to regulate carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Such rules would have a profound impact on Texas, which pumps more carbon dioxide into the air than any other state because of its scores of coal-fired power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities.

Read more: article source [chron.com]

i suppose its fairly save to conclude (0)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 years ago | (#37023888)

the prayers to allmighty Jesus have gone unanswered.

Appeals to science and reason have however once again been thoughtfully and promptly answered.

Far from first... (4, Insightful)

sunfly (1248694) | about 3 years ago | (#37023910)

Chanute, KS was the first in the US, from October 14th 1956 to March 14th, 1957. The water met microbial standards of the time, but was discontinued as soon as possible due to public acceptance.

Windhoek, the capital of the Republic of Namibia (Sahara desert) recycles about 30% of their water to supply a population of 300,000 residents. They started in 1968.

Not common, but far from a new idea.

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