Monday, June 4, 2007 | There Bruce Reznik goes again, selling Toilet-to-Tap as the only way to achieve efficient water use and to satisfy our water reuse mandate under the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act and other laws. The fact is that there is a far less dangerous and far less expensive alternative that he and his municipal employee union friends don’t want to talk about even though it’s been around San Diego for as long as he has, called Public Water Reuse.
Public Water Reuse is where the city uses its reclaimed water for new landscape irrigation wherever possible, and treats the remainder with small reverse osmosis systems for industry that wants to use it, and uses greywater irrigation systems for all other new landscape irrigation.
The reason they don’t want to talk about it is because it would do away with the union’s $1.85 billion-over-30-years career plan called Toilet-to-Tap, which no other U.S. city has even considered because of the inherent danger of drinking treated sewage. Despite what he claims, while calling our elected leaders gutless, there is serious doubt about whether it is intelligent to trust city workers to keep everything working perfectly in an experiment that must always work perfectly in order to be considered safe by some scientists.
In this era of prolonged drought and perhaps even man-made climate change especially affecting the fast-growing West and South West, the federal and state governments are now preparing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years on new water sources, wastewater treatment facilities, water pollution remedies, and power production plants, all of which greywater irrigation systems directly and substantially reduce the need for. Cost is an issue. Maybe our elected leaders know what the green building industry already knows.
The Green Building industry is an incubator for ideas, a proving ground for techniques, and a springboard for new industries. When it comes to water, wastewater, and energy, nothing impacts all of it more than new housing, and nothing decreases that impact more than green building. Homes that adhere to building standards promoted by the Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and similar types of programs reduce their negative impacts by about 50 percent. That’s a lot of rivers and their flora and fauna not lost to water transfers, a lot of sewage not dumped into rivers and oceans, a lot of hydro-carbons not burned and unceremoniously scattered into the breeze for downwind neighbors to choke on. From an environmental perspective, green building is a quantum leap better than traditional construction.
Traditional water projects, desalination, for instance, only increase upstream, onsite, and downstream environmental problems and costs. Greywater irrigation reduces all of those problems and costs, thus greywater irrigation is the only method with virtually total public support, which is exactly the opposite of how the public feels about Toilet-to-Tap.
The only reason we don’t have wide-scale water reuse here is because self-appointed elitists keep shoving Toilet-to-Tap on the public, which is actually smarter than some people think they are.