Thirsty Texas Towns Resort to Innovative “Toilet to Tap”
Turning sewage into drinking water may not be appealing to most people, but as droughts across the U.S. become more frequent and reservoirs get lower, the idea may not be as far as a stretch than it seems. Instead of depending on an unreliable aquifer or reservoir, towns like Wichita Falls, TX are taking matters into their own hands and building complex treatment plants that turn sewage into tap water.
Wichita Falls, located in northern Texas, boasts a population of just over 100,000 people and has experienced years of unprecedented water shortages. Lakes where they draw their water from have been reported levels below 40% capacity, and as the town becomes increasingly frustrated with a seemingly constant shortage of water, they have turned to the idea of “toilet to tap.”
Wichita Falls is now waiting for the approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) so that they can legally start reusing their water. Other cities in Texas are pursuing similar type projects. TCEQ recently approved of a $14 million project in Big Spring that will distribute 2 million gallons every day to the area. Projects like these not only encourage water efficiency, but will ensure a constant, safe drinking water supply for the future.
The approval of these projects come in wake of the recent passing of Texas House Bill 4. This bill, which is still awaiting approval from the Texas Senate, would create a $2 billion revolving loan fund that would help pay for water supply projects outlined in the 2012 State Water Plan. Natural Resources Committee Chair Allan Ritter said, “As Mother Nature has reminded us through the drought over the last several years, we cannot change the weather. But, with sound science and farsighted planning, we can conserve and develop a water supply to meet our future demands. HB 4 addresses the need to ensure that we have enough affordable water available to secure public health, and to further economic development — while protecting the agricultural and natural resources of the entire state.” Water reuse projects like “toilet to tap” will surely benefit from this fund.