Reclaimed water is the answer for drought
Dear Editor: The article, “Tapping into water shortage solutions” (June 2000), describes many approaches that are being used to conserve water, most of which are very appropriate. However, what has become by far the most important approach to conserving water, and one that can be adopted in addition to all the others, is presented in one short paragraph, which is misleading.
Reclaiming urban wastewater for nonpotable purposes through the use of dual systems has been practiced successfully in the United States for more than 25 years. The American Water Works Association published the second edition of its Manual of Practice, “Dual Water Systems,” in 1994, and a third edition is in the works. EPA published the second edition of its “Guidelines for Water Reuse” in 1992. Nowhere in those documents, which set state standards and recommendations and describe many reclamation facilities in the United States and abroad, is the word “graywater” used.
Graywater is all domestic wastewater except water from toilets. Water reclamation projects in urban areas do not deal with graywater separately. Graywater may be used in isolated homes with the ability to catch water from sinks and bathtubs for use in watering plants, but that is not a feasible approach to the water needs of municipalities.
Some 100 communities, many quite large, are reclaiming their wastewater for nonpotable purposes through dual distribution systems. St. Petersburg, Fla., and Irvine, Calif., have been doing it for more than 30 years. Landscape irrigation is a major use in California, Florida and the southwest generally, but it is also used for air-conditioning, toilet-flushing, concrete construction, environmental enhancement and vehicle washing, and in industrial processing and cooling towers. Some 40 states have regulations for nonpotable reuse.
Nonpotable reuse offers savings far greater than all the conservation measures you listed, and, of course, it can be used in addition to conventional conservation. In some cities, reclaimed water is sold at prices little different from those for potable water. Reclaimed water also is available during drought.
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Tired of environmentalists blaming people for warming
Dear Editor: I enjoy American City & County, and I usually enjoy your Editor’s Viewpoint. However, you’ve touched a nerve with your piece on global warming (Temperatures are hot, but counties are hotter,” September 2000).
By my admittedly crude estimates, each person in the United States – and in the rest of the world, for that matter, exhales about 6.6 tons of greenhouse gases each year. Given that, the best way to meet the Kyoto Protocol is for everyone to hold his/her breath.
I have really grown weary of the self-appointed, so-called “environmentalists” and their characterization of the human race as the worst thing that has ever happened to this planet. I find this to be the height of hubris. How puny we still are as a species when compared to the vastness of Planet Earth.
If every human on our planet produced greenhouse gases at the rate of the evil people of the United States, in one year we would produce an amount that is over a million times smaller than the total quantity already on the planet. We humans are not as significant as some of us may think.
Santa Clarita, Calif.