Technology, toilets could make Arizona flush with drinking water

Water recycling in large sewage treatment plant.

Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services

It’s often referred to informally as “toilet-to-tap” technology.

And, yes, there’s an “ick” factor.

But Arizonans eventually will be drinking treated sewage – what the state Department of Environmental Quality prefers to refer to as the product of “advanced water purification” – for the simple reason that there just isn’t enough water to serve a growing population.

The work on this is well on its way. In fact, DEQ is accepting comments for the next 30 days on its plans and the standards the agency is already starting to craft.

And if all goes according to schedule, municipal and private water companies will be able to add the treated effluent to their supply by the end of 2024.

Even Robin Silver, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, said it’s not a question of “if” but of “when.”

“The use of reclaimed effluent is inevitable in the arid Southwest, period,” he said. “That’s not really debatable anymore.”

More to the point, it’s already happening.


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November 2023