Places like Miami and Denver, as well as drought ravaged communities in Texas, California and New Mexico are considering using reclaimed waste water for drinking water.
Here in Salt Lake we're a long way away from drinking reclaimed water from the tap. Not only because our systems aren't set up enough to handle the heavy filtration process needed to clean the water thoroughly enough, but because we simply don't need to.
Tom Ward Deputy Director of Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Utilities told ABC 4 Utah, "Here in Utah we're very proud of the fact that the water you see in the watershed up at Big or Little Cottonwood, it's 8 or 10 hours to your tap, another 8-10 hours to the treatment facility and another 8, 10, 12 hours out to the Great Salt Lake. We’re getting it straight from the sky and drinking it once."
Some 30 million gallons of waste water a day comes into the Salt Lake facility. It’s filtrated three times before it's chlorinated and sent back out into the wetlands or Great Salt Lake.
Plant Manager Dale Christensen explained, "The water that comes into the main pump station takes about 12 to 14 hours to go through the complete process."
For those communities that are considering using the waste water for drinking water the process might take the same amount of time, but on top of being filtrated it goes though a double disinfectant process that can include hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light. It’s not toilet to tap, but toilet to treatment to treatment to treatment to tap and experts say it's even cleaner than what's coming out of the tap right now. But for that process to take place here in Salt Lake it would take hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades.