Posted by: Charissa Heckard | February 7, 2012

Thoughts on Reclaimed Water

Parks in Flagstaff use Reclaimed Water

The term reclaimed water means that water has been used by humans, recycled and now can be used for non-drinking needs. It is delivered to parks, school fields, golf courses and homes. It cuts down on the use of drinking water to irrigate lawns or park areas when the same water can be reused over again.

Tucson has been using reclaimed water for over 27 years saying it is not filtered for drinking or bathing. It is strictly for non-drinking water uses. Tucson’s governmental website  says that children and pets should be okay around the reclaimed water, but if they get sick they should be seen by a doctor.

One could become sick from this water because of remaining sewage that wasn’t filtered out. If ingested, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and  diarrhea could occur. They claim getting sick from the water isn’t common.

Something that confuses me is how they encourage the use of reclaimed water on crop plants. They also encourage its use in vineyards and fields. I don’t understand how companies can encourage the use of reclaimed water on food items humans will consume. If we are not supposed to ingest the water, what makes it okay to eat food that has been grown with reclaimed water.

Another issue I see is that when companies use reclaimed water, chemicals could potentially poison the ground water and get into our drinking water. What people fail to realize is that a lot of our water is all connected. Certain chemicals are not taken out of reclaimed water such as hormones, flame retardants, pesticides, medication and others.

A large controversy took place on the beautiful  San Fransisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Ariz. A project was planned in 2001 to purchase reclaimed waste water from the city of Flagstaff and use it to make snow in Snowbowl. This presents concerns because possible dangers to the ecosystem have not been tested thoroughly. We have already established the regulations in Flagstaff are faulty when it comes to screening chemicals.

Triclosan is one of the chemicals found in the reclaimed water that worries me. It is found in many household items, such as soaps. There have been studies proving it to be a hazardous chemical. Since 95 percent of items made with triclosan gets washed down the drain, of course it’s going to end up in our water systems.  In reclaimed water triclosan mimics estrogen like chemicals. If you haven’t caught on yet, many of the chemicals in water mimic estrogen hormones.

Despite environmentalist’s protest and concerns about the interaction between the water and surrounding ecosystems, the project moved forward and snow is being created with reclaimed water.

Correct regulations as well as implementation of regulations could lead to healthier reclaimed water. If cities adapt to the newest and latest technology reclaimed water could be an idea that benefits many people. An article in National Geographic talks about the possibility of reclaimed water being safe enough to drink with the proper technology. It’s fascinating to see the other side and see that there might be hope for reclaimed water.

Reclaimed water is a difficult and controversial subject because there are ongoing studies proving it to be good and bad. If you have further information, please share.

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