Water is the lifeblood of any city. With this is mind, it’s no wonder that sustainable water policies are a subject of contention in everywhere and one of the best ways to stretch every drop is by recycling water. Unfortunately, rumors and misinformation have arisen around the topic. The concern is understandable, as potable water is essential to good health, but these myths are dangerous in their own right, because recycled water programs depend on public support. Have you fallen for one of these popular myths?
Myth 1: You may as well be drinking sewage water.
Most people have no problem with redistributing recycled water for irrigation and other non-potable uses, but are hesitant about direct consumption because the perception is that reused water isn’t far off from sewage. The reality is that waste-water contains only one tablespoon of dirt per 53 gallons. It’s then treated via reverse osmosis, which removes microorganisms and other particulates, making it cleaner even than rain water.
Myth 2: The treatment process creates chemically altered, unnatural Franken-water.
The water filtering process is often wrongly thought to involve chemical dousing, but reverse osmosis works on the same filtration principles found in nature. Nature filters water through sand, stone, and other porous materials which let the water through, but not particulates. Reverse osmosis is identical, but uses much smaller holes, and higher water pressure.
Myth 3: Recycled water contains toxic levels of drugs and hormones.
Concerns about the presence hormones and other chemicals arose from a study of sewage runoff in the U.K. which found the river’s fish were affected by chemicals in the water. But that’s not the whole story. The sewage water in question was nowhere near the filter levels of municipal water.
Reverse osmosis removes almost 100 percent of these chemicals. Compare that to well water and that can contain lead and other naturally occurring contaminants.
Myth 4: Reverse osmosis removes the beneficial minerals naturally found in water.
Reverse osmosis does remove almost all mineral traces from water, but the core of this myth is that people receive vital nutrients through water, which the World Health Organization has stated as patently false. Recent findings actually suggest that the inorganic minerals found in untreated water may actually have a harmful effect, over a lifetime, in the form of hardening arteries, kidney and gallstones, and many other maladies. It’s estimated that an average person may ingest up to 300 pounds of rock over the course of 60 years, some of which is absorbed and accumulates.
So, the next time you hear a most likely well meaning, but misinformed, person repeating these recycled water myths, do your part and set the record straight.