Friday, Oct. 3, 2008 | Got bad news if you think that the water you drank this morning came straight from a pristine mountaintop high in the Sierra Nevada or Colorado Rockies.
Odds are pretty good those water molecules — those life-sustaining hydrogen and oxygen atoms — have been inside someone (or something) else’s body sometime during man’s time on Earth. Conjure whatever romantic storyline you want, because there’s only so much water on the planet. Maybe Columbus quaffed them while sailing the ocean blue. Maybe a dinosaur guzzled them from a prehistoric watering hole.
Or maybe they were in a warm beer on a Vegas poker table a few days ago.
With environmentalists, water agencies and San Diego’s City Council supporting recycled sewage as a new drinking water source, it is vital to understand that underlying concept: All drinking water is recycled.
But the type of recycling the City Council is studying would be the first of its kind in California: Directly taking purified sewage and pumping it into the San Vicente Reservoir, a drinking-water source.
Let’s settle on the terminology for the council’s effort: We’re calling it sewage recycling. Opponents call it toilet-to-tap. Which is not entirely accurate, because the oversimplified phrase ignores the purification process. Proponents call it “indirect potable reuse” or “reservoir augmentation.” Which may be accurate but aren’t entirely comprehensible.