As the number of droughts occurring in the U.S. piles on year after year, more Americans are becoming attuned to the fact that water shortages need to be taken seriously. If you asked people 20 years ago whether they approve the use of recycled water (i.e., recycling toilet water for use on golf courses), they may have hesitated. But in a world where 5.3 billion people worldwide will face water shortages by 2025, that’s not the case.
A recent survey from GE of 3,000 people in the U.S., China, and Singapore found that over 80% of Americans support the use of recycled water for things like landscaping, toilet flushing, car washing, and agricultural irrigation. After all, shouldn’t the really clean stuff be reserved for drinking?
This support for water reuse comes from a widespread understanding of water waste. Survey respondents believe that large industries, agriculture, and utilities are most responsible for water scarcity. That’s not far off—almost 70% of freshwater goes to agriculture and 20% goes to industry, according to GE.
The idea of using recycled water for landscaping isn’t that unpalatable. But what about drinking recycled water? In San Diego, parts of Texas, and Singapore (among other places) people already are. As Linda MacPherson, the owner of New Water ReSources, explained to Co.Exist in an interview earlier this year, "Treated waste water discharges going into rivers and streams becomes the source of drinking water supply for people downstream and that’s been going on forever. You just don’t talk about it." As issues with water scarcity increase, we may start talking about it a lot more.