Global environmental challenges
After an hourlong tour of the world’s largest wastewater recycling plant, where 70 milion gallons of pre-treated sewer discharge is distilled daily to help replenish the underground drinking supply of Orange County, California, I was led to a sink with a faucet. There I was presented with a plastic cup and invited to take a sip.
Crystal clear and utterly tasteless, the sample was refreshing and perfectly safe for human consumption. Some minerals are actually reintroduced to the water before it’s pumped back out of the ground for general consumer use.
Michael Markus, general manager of the Orange County Water District and the chief engineer behind the plant, assured me that the water exceeds all government drinking standards, even though the state requires the county to put it into the local aquifer — for additional natural filtration — before offering it to the public.
NASA has recently developed a new system for purifying urine and other wastewater for astronauts to drink in space. But this is wastewater recycling for the masses.