The Drought

Drought Boat

Well, just when I was feeling upbeat, along comes the barbarian horde with a new beheading video. I’m not going to write about that today, though, except to send my thoughts and prayers to the family of the latest victim, Peter Kassig.

Instead, I’m going to talk about a relatively happy topic. See? Anything can be happy, relatively speaking.

Hopefully this winter will be a wet one, but it’s become increasingly clear that a long term solution to California’s water supply is needed. Water is the biggest issue facing the Golden State. A lot of people don’t think about it unless there’s a drought, but the issue is always there in some form. Whether it’s the push and pull between agricultural, industrial, and residential use, or the environmental degradation in the Delta, the issue never really goes away; it just goes off the radar.

My suggestion is to recycle waste water and put it back into the fresh water system. I know, I know, but believe it or not there is technology to recycle water that makes it cleaner than the water that comes out of your tap. It’s called reverse osmosis and it’s already being used in the Bay Area to provide super-clean water for the Chevron oil refinery. Chevron partnered with a water district to build the facility because the recycled water is so clean that it reduces the calcification in the pipes that cool the refining process, thus resulting in reduced maintenance costs.

Of course, the problem is that people can’t get their heads wrapped around the idea, in part because of the unfortunate phrase “toilet to tap.” Well, get over it. The water’s not going from your toilet to your tap. And if you think about it, what’s so attractive about the notion of water being stored in an unlined reservoir, with fish using it for their toilet? It reminds me of that old Saturday Night Live skit. “The fish are swimming in their own toilet! It’s disgusting!”

Yes, it would be expensive to build the facilities to recycle enough water to satisfy all the needs, but it couldn’t be any more expensive than building more dams, or that water tunnel that Jerry Brown wants to build. Plus, the voters just passed a huge bond measure to deal with water supply.

It seems like Australia is taking the lead on recycled water, due to their own periodic drought problems. So let’s take a clue from our friends down under, grow up and get over the ick factor, and deal with our water issues once and for all.

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