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Opinion

Taking the waste out of waste water

There’s nothing more important than water. Water is an absolute necessity for life. It’s a good part of most of our food, it’s what we wash with, and it’s what everything around us is green because of. There’s not a shortage of water on the planet, there’s a shortage of fresh water where you want it.

The United States water footprint is more than twice the global average. We have a solution that could increase  municipal  water supplies up to 27 percent. But we don’t like it. Taking the waste out of the waste water.

This a brand new bottle of water, I’m going to open the seal and I’m going to pour it into this glass. What we have here is two cockroaches. I’m going to take one of them and I’m going to put it into the water and take it out, just like that, flick flick. Now, how about a sip of this water? You don’t want it.

They say “it’s a cockroach, you’ve cockroached the water!”. Somehow, cockroachness has entered into the water. And that’s the point, that’s contagion. I study disgust, there’s a veneer of fear, fear is an easy account for why you’re disgusted but often it’s not that, it’s much deeper.

And this is a plastic cockroach. Now how would you like to drink this water? You don’t want this either, this isn’t a real cockroach, it’s just a piece of rubber. Disgust is never really rational. The problem is a mental problem. And this thinking can be applied to recycled water.

The simplest way to get water is to take the water you’ve just used and make it into usable water again. That’s recycled water. It’s safe, it’s efficient, it’s ecologically sound, it makes total sense but it’s offensive.

We got involved, we talked to the people who run the recycled water facilities. The problem wasn’t making the water pure, it is pure, the problem was convincing people to drink it.

At a stormy public hearing, many citizens blasted the plan. Don’t ever let this happen to the public. Cities have struggled to introduce recycled water. They couldn’t get past the “yuck” factor.

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