High Country News turned its attention to San Diego’s halting efforts to recycle wastewater in a story published this week.

The story examines San Diego’s debate within the larger context of water reuse discussions throughout the West. The story says:

It is a telling comment on the disjointed nature of much water management in the United States that San Diego has both a water-supply and a water-disposal problem. On the supply side, the city imports between 85 and 95 percent of its water from distant sources — specifically, from the Colorado River and the California State Water Project. …

Turning treated effluent into drinking water is a widespread practice. It’s most commonly done when communities dump their effluent into streams and rivers, knowing that other users downstream will use the same water. But an increasing number of communities are reusing their own water.

Pointing to the billions of gallons of wastewater that are dumped in the Colorado River upstream from San Diego, the story says:

That, indeed, is one of the principal ironies here: Before it could even be used for reservoir augmentation, the water would be treated to a higher standard than what San Diegans are drinking now.


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