From Toilet to Tap to Acceptance

In drought-prone states like Arizona, nature and weather are forcing environmental agencies and utilities to turn to alternative solutions to ensure a steady water supply. This week, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced that it is taking steps to make one such solution—direct potable reuse—legal in the state. 

Direct potable reuse can be a hard sell when it comes to public acceptance, especially when terms like “toilet to tap” persist. The Tucson.com article about the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s proposal does note that the toilet to tap moniker was used to mock the practice—but still uses the term both in the headline and the first sentence.

Direct potable reuse does not need to be scary. Today, we have the technologies available to make treated wastewater safe to drink. As always, education is key, and helping consumers learn about the treatment processes involved in direct potable reuse will go a long way toward acceptance.

In Arizona, it seems officials have some time to get the public used to the idea. According to officials, many communities do not yet need direct potable reuse, as their water supply needs are satisfied by current sources or conservation strategies such as indirect potable reuse, but they are planning for the future. Until then, let’s hope we can phase out “ick factor” terms like toilet to tap.

How would you go about educating consumers about direct potable reuse? Tell us in the comments, or send us an email at [email protected] 

water reuse, direct potable reuse, arizona, toilet to tap

Kate Ferguson is editor-in-chief of WQP. Ferguson can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1007.

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