Toilet to Tap Water: Pros and Cons?


Throughout the United States, the process of treating sewage and then throwing the water away into an ocean outfall, or into a river or a lake someplace is becoming obsolete. Because water is so hard to get, the approach is going to be to take the water from whatever source the municipality has and treat it so that it becomes good, potable tap water.

Then, when the water is finally consumed and goes down the sewer, it will be collected, treated and reused as a source of good quality water. Although houses have different types of sewage, the aim is to save and reuse as much water as possible. For example, if you own a septic tank, it is crucial to get regular Colorado Springs septic tank cleaning, or septic tank cleaning wherever you are based, in order to try and preserve as much water as possible once it is clean enough to be recycled. The new way to save water is to treat the water that already exists.

“Indirect Potable Reuse” Got a Bad New Name: “Toilet to Tap Water”

The term that is used quite often is “toilet to tap” and this week in the city of San Diego, which is the 8th largest city in the United States, the city Council approved the “toilet to tap” approach and will be funding the treatment to do that. From the public standpoint there is what they call the “yuck factor”, as people think that they are drinking their own sewage water.

Modern water-purification technology is considered totally reliable, using micro-filtration and reverse osmosis, which pumps water through permeable membranes, and ultraviolet light to remove all contaminants. So the “yuck factor” will only be imaginary. So if you are wanting to see if you can install this water system into your house to start conserving water, you can have a look at sites such as and others that will give you options to conserve on your water usage.

But from a realistic standpoint, this has been going on forever. If you go to cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin or Chicago, Illinois, both of them being on the shores of Lake Michigan, they have a water intake in the lake and have been discharging their treated sewage out there for many years, probably 50 years or more. So in reality, “toilet to tap” has been taking place and it is a beautiful thing because we will finally be able to conserve water the way we should be conserving it.

Water Conservation to Help Meet Future Needs

Being in the water business the way we are and the number of years we have been in it, we know the technology is there to do it correctly. I think that the technical people, the Boards of Health and the regulatory agents should come out with a better study on the effectiveness of removing pharmaceuticals from the water. It is being done, but from a personal standpoint I do not know the molecular weight or the physical size of the pharmaceutical compounds that are in the sewage.

Having pharmaceutical distribution experts organizing the medication and ensuring that the deposits are safely stored and not entering water supplies is essential however in this case, I am sure that the technology will take it out but I would like to see the technical people involved in this process make the public more aware that one particular fact is that we know we can kill the bacteria, the viruses, the cysts, we know that we can make the water perfectly clear and clean-looking, we can take care of the taste issues, but the lingering concern from somebody like myself and many others in the industry is: can we prove to the public that the residual pharmaceuticals are coming out of their wastewater prior to being used as drinking water?

Public education campaigns are very important for spreading the news on the benefits of recycled sewage water. For example, every day, the outflow of L.A.’s treated wastewater (about 400 million-plus gallons) amounts to the state’s fifth-largest river running into the Pacific Ocean. In these dry times, it makes perfect sense to stop throwing it away! The secret to successful recycling programs is complete transparency from officials. Transparency and proper public education will lead to minimal opposition from the general public.


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