A 2023 Choice Reviews Outstanding Academic Title
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
According to the UN World Health Organization, one-third of the world's human population lacks access to secure supplies of safe drinking water. This issue compelled the UN to establish Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is to find universally feasible water reuse strategies, as described in this book. Authors William Alley and Rosemarie Alley persuasively explain the technical and social factors related to using sewage water as a direct source of potable water for human consumption. This book provides a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of wastewater recycling, supported by current references, and would be a welcome addition to any sustainable development collection.
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.
Memorial Day weekend, often considered the beginning of summer activities, turned out to be a good time for me to read the volume, which fills an important gap for water experts and the general public by providing an excellent primer on the history, current status, and future of water recycling. The Alleys have mastered the art of explaining science in the context of case studies based on extensive research. This book is a good read. It provides a thorough, realistic, and balanced view of the opportunities and obstacles associated with increased water recycling in the United States. I recommend putting it on your summer reading list.
The Water Recycling Revolution provides an engaging and accessible narrative about how water recycling is becoming increasingly central to the future of water resources.
The book is useful for the interested public and professionals in a wide range of specialties who deal with water supply. Although largely nontechnical, the authors provide enough technical background for the interested reader to understand the engineering and regulatory controls that govern water reuse systems. The authors also provide the necessary water resources background for the reader to recognize the need for water reuse. The history of public opposition and acceptance of water reuse in different communities provides a road map to success for those contemplating future water reuse projects.
A must-read book for the water reuser or anyone interested in the subject, including newbies. It’s an easy read about a critically important resource. And as Dr. Sharp noted about the reuse resource, there isn’t going to be enough of it to go around.
6/23/23, Choice Reviews: This title was featured in a roundup of June 2023 top 75 community college titles.