Background Info:

Recent events and news about water scarcity got me thinking about this. So the question is essentially the title. Or am I missing something?

If you live anywhere that uses a sewer system rather than septic tanks, isn’t it already doing that?

In my area, the water company pulls in from the river, filters and processes it, and pipes it out to homes. It gets used in the homes, discharged into the sewer to a treatment plant, treated, and then pumped back into the river.

Even if your water company’s intake is before the sewage treatment plant, the next town’s intake is downstream. So if you’re not drinking your neighbor’s processed toilet water, you’re drinking that of the town upstream.

Is getting mixed with river water simply enough to “dilute” the ick-factor here, or is there something I’m missing?

  • Lyre
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    27 days ago

    Listen imma level with you bro, if they are genuinely calling it “toilet to tap”, and you dont get why people might find that a little off-putting, then i dont think this thread has anything for you.

    • Admiral Patrick@dubvee.orgOP
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      27 days ago

      Poor branding aside, it doesn’t really change anything, though. But yeah.

      I at least appreciate the honesty in the naming rather than some marketing doublespeak. That said, I’d be okay with it if they called it “astronaut water” or something lol.

      • AwkwardLookMonkeyPuppet@lemmy.world
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        27 days ago

        Poor branding aside, it doesn’t really change anything, though.

        Branding is everything when it comes to the masses. Ideas live or die because of their marketing.

        • Admiral Patrick@dubvee.orgOP
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          27 days ago

          Lol, I hate that you’re right :sigh:

          Anyone who’s passed 5th grade science would know that water is fine, but that’s asking too much of more people than I’d care to imagine.

          • AwkwardLookMonkeyPuppet@lemmy.world
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            27 days ago

            Men in Black nailed this 20 years ago:

            “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals…” - Agent K

            People as individuals are usually pretty smart in at least a few areas. People as the masses are highly emotional. Our emotions produce revulsion at the idea of drinking reclaimed water, and so that’s what you get as a response from the masses without proper marketing to change those feelings. So, if anyone isn’t giving this enough thought, I’d say it was the person who came up with the slogan “toilet to tap”. They should have known better.

          • GBU_28@lemm.ee
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            26 days ago

            If you had never heard of the actual things before, the following names are terrible.

            Would you sign up for a planned, injectable micro infection?

            or use a body restrainer strap in a car? A car equipped with an explosive skull decelerating dynamic catchment system?

            Just saying, naming of things matters

      • Lyre
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        27 days ago

        Haha thats actually a solid idea. I’d drink astronaut water in a heartbeat.

        I think your right the honesty is refreshing but when it comes to marketing i think reclaimed water is just about the last place you want that kind of honesty

        • Admiral Patrick@dubvee.orgOP
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          26 days ago

          (Disregard if NEW is an acronym, I guess lol).

          Not trendy enough. How about NuWater?

          I was thinking of “astronaut water” if we had to rebrand it.

  • Stern@lemmy.world
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    27 days ago

    Same reason I don’t go to the butchery to watch my sausage get made. Just do it and don’t tell me.

  • ealoe@ani.social
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    26 days ago

    It’s kinda like the question of “how big does the body of water have to be before you’re comfortable swimming with a corpse?” Like we all know that’s how it works, but making a direct correlation makes it much more uncomfortable.

  • Bilbo_Haggins@lemm.ee
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    27 days ago

    You’re not missing anything, people are just weird about it.

    Also the person who named it “toilet-to-tap” is an idiot. Reclaimed water is “toilet to tap” in the same way that a vegetable grown in compost is “garbage to garden.” There’s a host of sophisticated engineering processes in between the two, making the water just as clean as any other treated drinking water.

    Mixing with river water or putting the water in a reservoir and then pumping it back out again simply makes people feel more comfortable about it and, like you said, reduces the “ick” factor.

    • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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      26 days ago

      My guess is they’re not idiots and knew exactly what they were doing… and being paid for by whoever it was that stands to lose money if reclaimed water became popular

      • intensely_human@lemm.ee
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        26 days ago

        More like it’s designed to sound disgusting in order to rub people’s noses in it when they have no choice but to go along with whatever this new plan is (for the planet).

        They know we don’t have a choice, so it’s an opportunity for some sadistic person to maximize the discomfort of this unavoidable process.

        And I don’t mean unavoidable physically. I mean unavoidable legally.

  • Nougat@fedia.io
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    27 days ago

    Water is water. Get the “not water” stuff out of it, and you have … water. Add back in some “stuff that probably should be in potable water,” like minerals and fluoride, and there’s no problem.

    You can build a bush filter with grasses, rocks, sand, and charcoal from your campfire which will catch most of the particulate, then boil it to make sure you kill all the parasites. The only thing a municipal filtering station might add to that would be removal of heavy metals and actual testing.

    • Thavron
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      27 days ago

      Water has memory! And while the memory of a long-lost drop of onion juice seems infinite, it somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

      • isles@lemmy.world
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        27 days ago

        The number of people who believe in homeopathy after it’s explained to them is TOO DAMN HIGH.

        • LordTrychon@startrek.website
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          27 days ago

          I thought for the longest time that homeopathy was just a generic name for alternative medicines or something. Wasn’t for me regardless so I never gave it a second thought or dug into it.

          Someone recently explained what it was to me and I just started laughing. Hilarious. Kinda. I had no clue.

            • NeatNit@discuss.tchncs.de
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              26 days ago

              It’s the idea that water has memory, and that memory-water has healing abilities. I’m not going to explain it more than that but there’s no shortage of online sources to both explain it and disprove it.

            • intensely_human@lemm.ee
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              26 days ago

              It’s a term that refers to any medicinal strategy which includes providing small amounts of the same pathogen or another substance which causes the same symptoms.

              homeo = matching the
              pathy = disease

              Two examples of mainstreamed homeopathic treatments are:

              • the administration of a rabies vaccine to someone suspected of already being infected
              • the use of capsaicin creams to treat chronic pain

              It’s differentiated from “allopathic” medicine, which is when you use something that the opposite or indices opposite symptoms.

              allo = opposite of the
              pathy = disease

              Most mainstream medicine is allopathic medicine:

              • taking an anti inflammatory drug to reduce inflammation
              • taking beta blockers when your blood pressure’s too high
              • using lenses which produce -3.5 diopters of focus when your eyes have a +3.5 diopter focus deficit

              In a drive to provide supply for the desire to make fun of people, the internet has decided homeopathy refers to mega-diluted water potions. It’s classic straw man shit writ large, fur the satisfaction of mocking people.

              Homeopathy = pushing the same direction as a disease, to trigger the body’s own anti-disease mechanisms

              Allopathy = pushing back against the disease with the medicine, because the body’s anti-disease mechanisms are exhausted or absent

        • Deway@lemmy.world
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          27 days ago

          The fact that it’s not zero is so weird.

          • “Sooo here’s a scam, proved to be a scam, based on a scam”
          • “Oh so it’s natural, so it works!”
        • TheRealKuni@lemmy.world
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          25 days ago

          I have a beautiful unicorn pin with a magnet back on my fridge that says “Homeopathic means pretend” from the podcast Sawbones. It makes me smile.

  • NeatNit@discuss.tchncs.de
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    27 days ago

    Psychology, and sensible evolved repulsion from waste. MinuteEarth made a video about this, which you should watch (it’s only 2:53), but I’ll quote a key part: “we can trick ourselves out of our irrational disgust by doing irrational things like letting recycled water sit in tank for a while before we drink it.” Do see the full video for context.

  • HobbitFoot @thelemmy.club
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    27 days ago

    The river dilutes enough of the sewage that people don’t think about it. There are also usually laws on minimum distance between sewage outlets and water inlets.

    In contrast, reclaimed water isn’t diluting treated water, it is the treated water, generally without the plausible deniability in saying that nature helped clean it.

    • Successful_Try543@feddit.de
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      27 days ago

      Usually the water that will become tap water is also not pumped directly from the river but is bank filtrate from nearby underground.

  • HeyThisIsntTheYMCA@lemmy.world
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    27 days ago

    I honestly think because they haven’t been to the treatment plant and tasted the water straight out of it. It’s better than out of the tap.

    • Admiral Patrick@dubvee.orgOP
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      27 days ago

      Funny you mention that.

      Our city’s treatment plant was a frequent field trip destination. I think I went 3 times (two different class trips, and once again with my engineering club). All 3 times, the plant manager gave the tour and concluded it by drinking a glass of water out of the output pipe to show how clean the water was that they were putting back into the river. (Supposedly, anyway).

      As proud as he was for what they did there and of the standards they had, I’m going to give him the benefit of doubt that it was the actual effluent from the plant he was drinking. He always seemed fine and never hesitated to down a glass of it.

      So yeah, like you said, people probably haven’t been exposed to that to know how clean the water that comes out of treatment plants usually is.

      • HeyThisIsntTheYMCA@lemmy.world
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        27 days ago

        The dude who used to run the local plant (since retired and moved away, we’ve lost touch) was a friend. He’d bring the church youth group out for tours and I helped run the group, so I tagged along because hey, small town it’s something to do. I mean the local spring is better, but are we really comparing filet mignon and cube steak?

  • tunetardis
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    27 days ago

    I watched a documentary on this awhile back. The municipality asked the public if it would be enough for them to dump treated water into a lake and then draw from that lake? And then someone with expertise in the matter commented that this would necessitate another treatment phase, since any wild animal could take a dump in the lake. So he seemed to think closing the loop made the most sense from a practical standpoint.

  • AA5B@lemmy.world
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    27 days ago

    My poop feeds the fishes. My city has a giant protected watershed so we drink only the finest bear poop, piped directly into our homes, then our waste is treated, fermented for 30 days until ripe, and pumped out to sea

  • tiredofsametab@kbin.run
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    26 days ago

    I just assumed we already were (well, was, in my case, having moved to a place with septic). Several of my family worked in wastewater treatment. It doesn’t bother me

  • satanmat@lemmy.world
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    27 days ago

    if you live anywhere….

    That IF is doing quite a bit of work there …

    And again IF the water is treated…

    Yes. If those are both done then there is little issue

    In some parts of Phoenix AZ , they use the treated grey water to water grass golf courses

    The issue is really when there are heavy rains and the treatment facilities are overwhelmed and RAW sewage gets dumped into the river In other places there is insufficient or no treatment and again raw sewage goes into the river where the next town downstream needs to use the river water for drinking

    • Admiral Patrick@dubvee.orgOP
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      27 days ago

      In some parts of Phoenix AZ , they use the treated grey water to water grass golf courses

      Using grey water for agriculture / irrigation purposes is pretty common. It’s why they tell you not to drink (or make sun tea) from the sprinkler water.

      The issue is really when there are heavy rains and the treatment facilities are overwhelmed and RAW sewage gets dumped into the river

      Yeah, that’s why combined sewer and stormwater systems have fallen out of use (and are illegal in most places now). That used to be a much bigger problem, but thankfully, most places have separated those systems and made it illegal to discharge stormwater into the sanitary sewers. My house still has the old connections where the gutter downspouts tied into the sewer line (house is from the 50s), but they’re capped with concrete.

    • HubertManne@moist.catsweat.com
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      27 days ago

      im not sure if they ever happens here. They have overflow areas and those get dumped with a bunch of chlorine added. So its not totally raw but its not properly treated. They also have seperate rain water and sewer so the overflow is not sewage but they still treat it because it can still pick up all sorts of stuff from roads and surfaces and such. If the overflows don’t get overwhelmed then it gets full treatment before being let into the watershed. Which basically means enough time is given for the chlorine to work. Granted they spent a bundle for the public works to get this done and prevent flooding. Not that im complaining as that is why I like where I live. You get all this talk about folks running from the area due to high taxes but you know im fine with high taxes and a well managed watershed, public spaces, public services, and such. disclaimer. I am not a watershed expert and don’t work for the water district so this is just my understanding from the various things that pop up on it (you would be surprised the information you get if you actually read your water bill and such)

  • IphtashuFitz@lemmy.world
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    26 days ago

    If you’re in the Boston area or nearby suburbs the all the sewage goes to the Deer Island treatment plant which eventually pumps the treated water out into the Atlantic…