Move past the “yuck factor” by learning the benefits and science behind recycling wastewater to beat climate change.
In recent years, humans have begun to turn the age-old taboo against mixing sewage and drinking water on its head by using advanced treated wastewater to supplement a city’s drinking water supply. This increasingly widespread practice, known as potable reuse, qualifies as nothing less than a drinking water revolution. Water reuse offers a renewable, locally managed, and drought resistant water supply. The Water Recycling Revolution tracks the story of this development, examines the pros and cons, and explores its future potential.
In this book, William M. Alley and Rosemarie Alley answer our most pressing questions: How do you get people to overcome the visceral reaction known as the “Yuck Factor” and not only drink, but appreciate, recycled water? What about all those pharmaceuticals and personal care products that people casually flush down the drain? Will diverting discharges from a wastewater treatment plant damage downstream users or ecosystems that previously depended on that water? And what are the implications for climate change? These questions are answered by delving into the history of major water recycling projects from California to Virginia, each with a unique story of what led them to develop potable reuse, as well as the challenges they had to overcome. Additional concerns addressed include pathogens, contaminants of emerging concern, achieving acceptable risk, onsite and decentralized reuse systems, and direct potable reuse. Recycling wastewater can make for a bright future in the fight against climate change, and this book is a valuable resource to convince readers.
William (Bill) M. Alley, PhD, is an internationally-recognized authority on groundwater and an environmental science writer. He was Chief, Office of Groundwater for the U.S. Geological Survey for almost two decades. Bill currently serves as director of science and technology for the National Ground Water Association.
Rosemarie Alley is a freelance writer with extensive writing and public speaking experience. Bill and Rosemarie previously collaborated on Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste (2013), High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World’s Growing Dependence on Groundwater (2017), and The War on the EPA: America's Endangered Environmental Protections (2020). The Alley’s divide their time between San Diego, California and Longmont, Colorado.
1. America’s Finest City
2. Early Days
4. Breakthrough: The Orange County Story
5. From Toilet-to-Tap to Pure Water
6. Colorado’s Front Range
7. Georgia and Virginia Have Water Reuse on Their Minds
8. Florida: The Long Road from Purple Pipes to Potable Reuse
9. Microbes and Natural Buffers
10. Contaminants of Emerging Concern
11. Achieving Acceptable Risk
12. Serving it Straight Up
13. Small Can Be Beautiful
14. One Water
About the Authors
If you are curious about how humanity figured out how to recycle water, this is your book. An authoritative view of why recycling was pursued, how it was done, and the innovators who made it possible.
The Water Recycling Revolution is an extremely timely and engaging narrative of the people, history, and science behind the development of this increasingly important water supply. The book is well researched and, while packed with facts, is written as a compelling story rather than an academic overview.
Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply, including for drinking water. In The Water Recycling Revolution, by Bill and Rosemarie Alley, we now have an authoritative, comprehensive, and well-organized history and guidebook explaining how this revolution occurred—and why you should pay attention to it if you care about our water future. If you’re interested in learning about water reuse, this is the first book you should read.