Spaceship Australia to Drink Own Waste?

by Val Germann

A town in western Australia has defied the experts and its political leaders by voting down a plan to recycle sewer water back into the city’s main reservior where it would be, uh, used again as drinking water. Like astronauts on their way to the Moon, Australians are being asked to consume their own waste, and they’re not liking it.

They’re not liking it even though the process was said to be perfectly safe. That is, the nastiness inherent in modern waste water was promised to be totally removed. That’s what was said. However, common sense, and the Second Law, say that total removal of nastiness is impossible on its face and if a city is drinking its own waste water it is in big trouble. The voters, to their credit, understood this fact implicitly, as a recent SPACE DAILY article reported:

Toowoomba City Council had proposed treating waste water before pumping it into the town’s main resevoir and said the process would remove viruses, bacteria and hormones from the water. But townsfolk were concerned about health risks and that the project could damage tourism and affect house prices, Beer said.

Gee, I had no idea that a city running on its own waste water would have a problem selling its houses? What an interesting concept. But it’s one that is coming, sooner or later, because Australia is in the midst of a massive and unrelenting drought, one that will force new and unpleasant realities on Aussies, continent-wide:

Toowoomba in the state of Queensland has faced water restrictions for a decade and is one of hundreds of small towns suffering from a shortage of rainfall. Local Mayor Dianne Thorley had urged the 100,000 strong community to back a plan to pump purified effluent back into dams for drinking, and warned the town’s water supply could dry up within two years without drought-breaking rains.

Here in the American midwest, where it’s plenty hot right now, our water supply is fine. This writer has lived within one hundred miles of his current location for over half a century, and never even heard of water problems.

But, of course, that could change.

Read the entire SPACE DAILY article here.


About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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