As contamination, overconsumption, and drought sap Southern California's already limited supply of potable water, Orange County has just adopted an effective, if unpalatable, solution. Starting today, flushed toilet water will gush through a $490 million network of pipes and filters, return to the groundwater basin, then find its way home to moisten SoCal toothbrushes, Slate reports.
Not surprisingly, "toilet-to-tap" has droves of squeamish detractors. But the process is cheaper and more efficient than seawater desalination, for example, and produces fewer greenhouse gases and chemical byproducts. "If we don't learn to deal with drinking toilet water, we're going to be mighty thirsty," writes Eileen Zimmerman, calling the plan "a smart idea, one of the most reliable and affordable hedges against water shortages." (Read more Orange County stories.)