By Farnia Naeem and Hui Hui (Helen) Yee

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/science/earth/despite-yuck-factor-treated-wastewater-used-for-drinking.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=us

Although this article did not discuss New York, it is not difficult to imagine a situation in which clean water will be scarce in many other parts of the world. It seems that reclaiming water is a good way to preserve the natural clean water supplies, but the “yuck factor” remains a big hurdle standing in its way. The question then becomes: should cities that do not import water or face droughts begin reclaiming water to prevent low groundwater problems in the first place?

Certainly, from a strictly environmental perspective, reclaiming water sooner rather than later would be the more sustainable option, as it would decrease the depletion of natural groundwater supplies. Additionally, since there is no need to mix reclaimed water with drinking water, cities that are growing quickly but are not currently in danger of facing water shortages can begin using reclaimed water for industrial purposes. This proactive planning will provide ample time to gather the resources necessary to build an efficient water reclaiming facility. Thus, when New York City is faced with low water supply it will already have the materials in place to implement a plan to begin adding reclaimed water to the drinking water supply.

Needless to say, this will require money, political initiative, and public support. Programs that educate people about the reclaiming water process should also be introduced so that people learn about the water quality of reclaimed water and will be more willing to drink it. After all, the mixing reclaimed water ¬†with drinking water would be pointless if individuals turned to bottled water as an alternative to tap water. Perhaps if New York City leaders begin campaigning now, residents will have overcome the “yuck factor” by the time it is necessary for New York to add reclaimed water to the drinking water.

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