That's Right: Get Over the Yuck Factor of Toilet-to-Tap

Saturday’s Union-Tribune ran an editorial rescinding its previous opposition to indirect potable reuse, a water supply option which would recycle treated wastewater into water so pure we could drink it. We’ve been advocating for this water supply option for many years and would like to congratulate the paper for stepping back from the brink to re-think San Diego’s water crisis.

What a difference two-and-a-half years make.

In September, 2008, this Editorial Board’s assessment of the pilot project to recycle wastewater at San Diego’s North City Water Reclamation Plan did not mince words, advising the City Council to ‘face up to reality and kill the toilet-to-tap boondoggle.’  Further back in the archives, in 2006 the sentiment was even blunter: ‘your golden retriever may drink out of the toilet with no ill effects. But that doesn’t mean humans should do the same.’  Fortunately, in the intervening years the UT has got religion, or at least education, about water scarcity and the real science about recycled wastewater.  Now the message matches reality: indirect potable reuse produces a higher-quality water source than anything being imported into San Diego currently.

One area environmentalists, taxpayers, elected officials and even the media have always agreed on is the issue is one of education.  That’s why we’ve supported and fought for a public education campaign to go with the pilot project.  Hopefully, when that campaign gets into full swing later this year, the Editorial Board will be first in line to testify to the power of science and a little persistence.