The Brief: Potshots at Wichita Falls Muddy Water Reuse Issue

By John Reynolds, Texas Tribune 5/14/14

 photo by: Gabriel Cristóver Pérez
photo by: Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

A tour group samples treated wastewater at the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center, operated by the San Antonio Water System.

The Big Conversation

Wichita Falls is catching more than a little flak for its plan to take treated sewer water and use it for drinking water, a plan that got put on the fast track with the current drought. But the Tribune's Neena Satija writes today that the wisecracks hide an important fact — wastewater reuse is already common across the state.

The public policy discussion isn't helped by headlines that refer to "potty water," Satija writes. "When talking about the yuck factor associated with water reuse projects, people seem to be distraught over the fact that the water would go directly from a sewer treatment plant to the tap. That's the short-term plan in Wichita Falls during this extreme drought. Eventually, the city plans to blend treated sewer water with reservoir water before anyone drinks it — not unlike what happens in other cities."

The fact is, Satija writes, that treated wastewater can actually be much cleaner than other sources of drinking water. And with cities across Texas looking for creative ways to stretch their water supplies, it's perhaps no surprise that Wichita Falls and other cities such as San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth are all looking at this potential solution