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Recycled Toilet Water for New Jersey?

Treated wastewater, also known as reclaimed or recycled water, has been used to preserve scarce drinking water in the arid Southwest for decades, as well as in California and Florida.

Unlike the lawns of any other community, some homes in New Jersey will soon be kept green by recycled toilet water. Each day, about 140,000 to 160,000 gallons of flushed toilet water, along with water from shower and sink drains, will be cleansed at the village’s upgraded sewage plant before being pumped into Homestead’s irrigation pond, which feeds its system of underground sprinklers. The pond, which now is replenished by rain and runoff from the street, could be filled with treated wastewater by next summer. Treated wastewater that is not needed for the pond will be discharged into a nearby creek, the same creek where all of the water goes now.

The treated water contains less bacteria than storm water runoff and will be tested regularly to ensure compliance with permits issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Environmentalists, however, said reclaimed water raises concerns about sprawling development and potential contamination to groundwater.

The procedure is not common in New Jersey because the state has an abundant water supply, making it relatively cheap and often not worth the extra expense of recycling. While the Homestead system is unlikely to send industrial waste onto lawns, it could lead to a buildup of fertilizer and flushed medications trickling into the aquifer, which supplies drinking water for the region. The larger issue, as Jeff Tittel, executive director of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter, sees it, is “One of the things we need to do is plant more native grasses that use less water.” Tittel supports the use of recycled water for cooling power plants and flushing the toilets in large buildings. “To me, that makes a lot more sense. Spraying it on lawns and putting it back in the environment, when it can carry chemicals even if it’s treated to a higher standard, doesn’t make as much sense,” he said.

Source: Associated Press

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June 18, 2019, 6:43 pm PDT

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