This year, my aunt and uncle ventured on a grand trek of the western U.S. All summer, I enjoyed following their trip through the photos they texted and posted on social media—majestic views of Yellowstone National Park, the Teton Range in Wyoming, Antelope Canyon in Arizona, and many more.
But last week, my aunt texted me a photo that was not so scenic—a photo of a toilet she saw at a restroom at the Grand Canyon. What made this particular toilet photo-worthy is a small sign right above the flushing mechanism that reads, “Caution Reclaimed Wastewater Do Not Drink.”
First, I’ll give everyone a moment to laugh at the funny factor (Who drinks toilet water? What incident occurred that led the park service to feel the need to put up these signs?).
Now to the serious: It is great to see the national park conserving by reusing wastewater for toilet flushing. According to the National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park has its own water reclamation facility, which treats wastewater for reuse both in toilets and for irrigation. Water reuse is just one of the park’s many efforts to be more sustainable—other endeavors include a recycling program, a mule waste composting program and LEED-certified buildings.
What conservation efforts have you seen at national and state parks? Tell us about them in the comments below, or email us at [email protected]—and if you have photos, please share them!