How do you feel about drinking toilet water? Not great? Well, then, don't move to Wichita Falls, Texas, where officials are planning to start recycling wastewater for just that purpose. Three years of extreme drought led them to consider the plan, which would derive half of all drinking water from wastewater. Residents will flush, the water would go to the city's wastewater plant, and it would then travel to a purification plant via a recently constructed 13-mile pipeline before ultimately coming out of residents' taps, ready for drinking.
Two residents sum up how most people probably feel, telling NPR they think the idea is "gross" and plan to start drinking bottled water instead. But the mayor says the water will be clean and safe, and the city is working to educate its 104,000 residents on the science behind making it so. Without this plan, water is expected to run out in two years. (He explains to KERA News that there's "no outside irrigation whatsoever with potable water. Car washes are closed one day a week. If you drain your pool to do maintenance you aren’t allowed to fill it.") A few other cities in Texas are considering what some call "toilet-to-tap," but one expert notes, "The vast majority of water that enters a wastewater plant did not come from a toilet. They come from sinks, and bathtubs, and washing machines, and dishwashers." (Click for another unusual toilet story.)