The golden state’s historic drought is forcing once-squeamish Californians to take a new look at “toilet-to-tap” water re-use. Or as they prefer to call it in Fountain Valley, “showers to flowers.”The town in conservative Orange County is home to the largest water recycling plant in the world and an example during this epic drought of the life-altering changes California will have to make to avoid running out of water.The first would be to get over the idea that water is an infinite resource, or that it pours out of the tap straight from a pristine, underground spring.The biggest challenge seems to be getting over the 'yuck' factor. I get that.
This is the third year of drought in the west. By July end, more than half of California fell into the worst category of “exceptional drought.”
California law still does not allow the direct re-use of the water leaving the Orange County plant—even though it is purified to a higher standard than groundwater supplies. But the state regulator was looking to draft new rules to allow direct re-use of water by 2016.
“I think it is inevitable that Californians are going to have to get beyond this notion of just ‘toilet-to-tap,’” said David Feldman, who teaches water management at the University of California at Irvine.
“I think this plant is very important to protecting the strategic reserves of water. If we did not have this groundwater basin we would have to import virtually all of our water.”