Removing drugs is key to water reclamation.

"Aquathin OP-ED Commentary"

Several months ago I sent you a News Bulletin concerning this new and highly questionable trend known as "Toilet to Tap".


Removing drugs is key to water reclamation


LOS ANGELES — Officials in Orange County are taking steps to ensure that in a project to turn sewage into drinking water, all pathogens and any residue

of pharmaceutical drugs are eliminated.

The county water district's ambitious $600-million plan will treat millions of gallons of sewage to kill viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing agents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It also will give wastewater extra levels of treatment to ensure that things like pills and medicines that may be flushed down area toilets are neutralized.

The extra measures for pharmaceutical drugs were included to protect public health as well as to answer consumer concerns that have caused cancellation of similar

reclamation projects in Southern California, water officials said, the newspaper reported.

Ron Wildermuth, a spokesman for the Orange County Water District, said the groundwater replenishment system will include microfiltration (MF), reverse osmosis (RO)

and ultraviolet disinfection (UV), the article said.

Recycled water is used across the nation for various purposes, from making newsprint to watering freeway landscaping to making snow for ski slopes, said the newspaper.

By turning sewage into beverage, Orange County will join a growing number of communities across California that are trying to reduce dependency on imported water.

District officials said the project, which will use highly treated sewage to recharge the groundwater, will also use state-of-the-art techniques to remove birth-control pills,

cholesterol-lowering medication, antidepressants and other drugs that have become mainstays of modern life, the Times reported

Sewage, which now is moderately treated and sent out to sea, instead will be put through MF, RO and UV treatments at a Fountain Valley plant, a process expected

to result in cleaner water than what flows out of most faucets now, the article said.

The treated wastewater then will be piped along the Santa Ana River to holding ponds in Anaheim, where it will percolate into a large aquifer, the newspaper reported.

About two years later, it will be pumped out of the ground, chlorinated and sent to homes and businesses in the northern and central parts of the county.

Water and sanitation officials point out that all water is actually recycled water, the newspaper said. The Orange County reclamation project hastens the transformation

from wastewater to drinking water.

The newspaper reported that the project stems from the county's water needs for a growing population as the state's share of Colorado River water declines.

By 2004, the first phase of the project will create enough drinking water to serve 140,000 families of four for a year.


Think Aquathin...AquathinK

Edited from Tech Bank 1/29/02