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Overcoming the stigma of ‘toilet-to-tap’ water

E.A. Barrera, San Diego News Network
From water officials to academics, and private business experts, all agree that the reuse of water for drinking is safe, affordable and necessary. But what about the yuk factor?

… With the city of San Diego declaring a Level 2 drought alert and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issuing a water shortage emergency, water specialists like Reilly feel it is critical communities across the state develop as many water retention, conservation and reserve capabilities as possible.

“We can’t afford to take anything off the table and that includes indirect potable reuse water that is very safe when the proper filtration systems are in place,” Reilly said.

For almost two decades, San Diego has debated the use of Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) water as a source of replenishing the reservoirs in the city and county for its drinking supply. From water officials at the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and the local water districts within the county, to academics, and private business experts, all agree that the reuse of water for drinking is safe, affordable and necessary.
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But buttressing this argument is the “yuk factor” associated with the concept of drinking treated sewage water, and the belief by many that trying to blend sewage water into the drinking supply is a recipe for disease and a public health disaster
(27 May 2009)

The World Water Crisis: High Cost, Low Priority

Melinda Burns, Miller-McCune
Clean and steady water that circumstance denies to up to two-thirds of the world’s population remains a low priority even as trillions are spent on carbon and stimulus initiatives, a new United Nations report states.

Despite promises made by world leaders nearly a decade ago, a new United Nations report has concluded it is still “business as usual” for 5 billion people — about two-thirds of the world population — who do not have access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation or enough food to eat.

That’s the grim assessment of “Water in a Changing World”, the U.N.’s third triennial water development report since 2000. It was presented this spring at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, as several hundred protesters demonstrated against large dam construction and the privatization of water supplies in the developing world.

The report called on governments and the private sector urgently to increase their investment in water resources, noting that the funds needed for water resources are miniscule compared to the funds already pledged and obtained to reduce carbon emissions and deal with the global financial crisis.

Although more than 90 percent of the world’s population is expected to have access to safe drinking water by 2015, progress in basic sanitation lags far behind, the report said. Most of the sewage in developing countries is discharged without treatment, and an estimated 5,000 children die every day from diarrhea, a disease that often can be prevented by washing one’s hands with soap. That’s about 10 children dying in the time it will take to read this article.
(22 May 2009)
Miller-McCune, a magazine and website launched by philanthropist Sara Miller McCune in March 2008, publicizes “significant research and researchers, explaining what they offer in practical options for dealing with pressing social problems””

Is the Water Supply for 8 Million People in New York City at Risk?

Chris Hedges, Truthdig
A massive natural gas project could pollute fresh water supplies for New York, Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton, and other areas.

In the musical “Urinetown,” a severe drought leaves the dwindling supplies of clean water in the hands of a corporation called Urine Good Company. Urine Good Company makes a fortune selling the precious commodity and running public toilets. It pays off politicians to ward off regulation and inspection. It uses the mechanisms of state control to repress an increasingly desperate and impoverished population.

The musical satire may turn out to be a prescient vision of the future. Corporations in Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and upstate New York have launched a massive program to extract natural gas through a process that could, if it goes wrong, degrade the Delaware River watershed and the fresh water supplies that feed upstate communities, the metropolitan cities of New York, Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton, and many others on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.
(25 May 2009)