As cities across the country face growing water shortages with the innovative idea of treating wastewater, then sending it back to the tap, probably the biggest hurdle is public perception. Media outlets certainly don't help, exploiting the "toilet-to-tap" trope to raise the so-called "yuck factor" of this relatively desperate measure.
Well, we don't apologize, because it's gross, and our job as a media outlet is to alarm you about things that are actually a lot more complicated than they appear.
See, the New York Times has a piece today about cities like San Diego overcoming that "yuck factor" and moving forward with wastewater treatment plans. It hits close to home in South Florida.
Our local capital of sprawling nowheredom, Pembroke Pines, went a step further last year by proposing to pipe treated wastewater directly into the Biscayne Aquifer, the incredibly large limestone sponge that underlies most of the tricounty area, naturally filtering our water.
"The water will be very, very well-treated," Pines City Manager Charlie Dodge told the Sun-Sentinel a year ago. "It's not as if you would know it went through this process."
So why hasn't anything been done yet? It's quite costly to invent and produce a treatment system to do this considerable task and inject treated water 60 to 200 feet back into the ground. (That water will disperse to neighboring cities across South Florida.)
Also: Thresholds are in place for when Pines is required to find a new source of drinking water. A certain level of water use, combined with current levels, triggers the requirement. The city is almost there.
Pines officials last year approved a last-minute agreement to pipe water to the proposed ICE detention facility built on a Southwest Ranches plot next to the Everglades. That certainly won't help the city's water-table situation and could ease the city closer to what places like San Diego have recently had to implement.