Toilet to Tap? Not yet.
I do not support drinking recycled sewer water until the science has proven it to be safe.
It is important to understand that the push to institute potable reuse (a.k.a., “Toilet-To-Tap”) by injecting recycled sewer water into our aquifer is not an environmental or conservation effort, but rather is a part of the California State housing agenda. There have been significant improvements in the science of water purification, but it is not yet guaranteed to be completely safe. The risks are far too great to consider potable reuse until it is proven to be safe.
I attended an ABAG/MTC legislative workshop in Sacramento on June 20, 2018. Legislators spoke candidly regarding the State bills related to local governments, land use, housing, transportation, and water. Senator Scott Weiner referred to “local controllers” who use “nonsensical” rationale such as water for blocking new housing development. He said the State is working to implement potable reuse infrastructure to remove that argument.
With 70% of the vote in June 2000, Pleasanton residents voted “No” on Measure J, rejecting potable reuse by a 70% vote.
The following information contributed by a local water resources engineer:
Pleasanton is reconsidering Potable Reuse (a.k.a. Toilet-to-Tap). The associated May 2018 Feasibility Study sheds light on the complexity, problems, and potential solutions of acquiring and cleaning sewer water for drinking (See: Joint Tri-Valey: Potable Reuse Technical Feasibility Study). Five (5) concerning takeaways from this document are as follows:
1) Contaminants may not be fully identified, especially contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). By definition, new CECs continue to emerge. Although some individual CECs are being studied, the effects due to combinations of these and other contaminants in sewer water are poorly understood. CEC examples are,
Endocrine-disruptor chemicals (EDCs): hormones, pesticides, plasticizers, pain relievers, stimulants, antibiotics, sunscreen, and fragrances
Several EDCs are suspected to “have effects at very low doses”; and, “nearly 1,000 chemicals have been classified as EDCs; this is a small fraction of the 80,000 known chemicals in our environment”.
Classification work is not completed! (See Minireview: Endocrine Disruptors: Past Lessons and Future Directions, Oxford Academic)
2) Regulations are incomplete for Potable Reuse, Direct Reuse in particular.
3) Tritium, a radionuclide, is in the Livermore waste water stream – below regulatory limits, but requiring further explanation.
4) Various costly testing and cleaning techniques are discussed, and a reliance on laws/regulations to keep some CECs out of the waste stream is suggested, but not validated.
5) Groundwater modeling shows potential increases in concentrations of salts for some Pleasanton wells.
More work needs to be completed before remedies are proven effective and complete in contaminant identification, removal, and cost.
I Stand for Residents, not Developments!