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TX city wants to recycle sewer water into drinking water

CNN
Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 4:56pm

What would it take for you to drink tap water that had been recycled straight from the sewer?

Well, it could soon happen in Wichita Falls, a Texas city about two hours from Dallas.

Its facing severe water shortage and is looking for solutions.

“I don't know, you know Larry it's getting pretty drastic,” Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham said.

In Wichita Falls, they're literally running out of water.

“This reuse project will put 5 million gallons a day back in the distribution steam so it saves us taking 5 million gallons out of the lake,” Barham explained.

Lake Arrowhead is the city's main water source, (the lake itself is only 27 percent full) but when it started looking more like a dust bowl two years ago city leaders reached out to the state about the possibility of recycling sewer water straight to the tap.

“We evaluated the waste water first to see what we were going to have to be dealing with,” Daniel Nix, the Wichita Falls Public Utilities Operations Manager, explained.

Turns out, the treated wastewater isn’t all that bad, and it wouldn't take much to turn it into drinking water.

“The only missing piece of that puzzle was the pipeline connecting the wastewater plant to the water treatment plant,” Nix said.

With that pipe now in place, the city is doing tests so the state will sign off on the project.

(Reporter): “Would you drive the water?”

(Daniel Nix): “Absolutely.”

(Reporter): “Would you let your kids drink the water?”

(Daniel Nix): “Absolutely. We're all living downstream from somebody. So we in essence are all already doing reuse.”

And city leaders say after years of higher water bills and increasing water restriction, most residents understand.

(Wichita Falls resident): “I think you can get used to it.”

(Second resident): “I'm happy about it because we're concerned here about our water levels and whether or not we're going to have water.”

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