The New York Times Magazine delved into the country’s increasing push to recycle sewage yesterday. It’s worth a read. This paragraph about Orange County caught my eye:
Recycling the effluent solved the disposal problem and the saltwater problem in one fell swoop. A portion of the plant’s filtered output is now injected into the ground near the coast, to act as a pressurized barrier against saltwater from the ocean. Factor in Southern California’s near chronic drought, the county’s projected growth (another 300,000 to 500,000 thirsty people by 2020) and the rising cost of importing water from the Colorado River and from Northern California (the county pays $530 per acre-foot of imported water, versus $520 per acre-foot of reclaimed water), and rebranding sewage as a valuable resource became a no-brainer.
The actual cost of recycling sewage in Orange County is much lower than where Mayor Jerry Sanders, an opponent, has pinned it locally. Last November, when Sanders vetoed a City Council plan to launch a pilot study, he said recycling sewage would cost $1,882 per acre-foot. City Attorney Mike Aguirre has since questioned whether Sanders has misrepresented the costs of such a plan.