Americans don’t recognize they drink re-used water

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A clean water shortage is possible in 36 U.S. states in short order, according to the General Accountability Office, but a survey conducted for General Electric Co. found 66 percent of Americans feel positive about water re-use although they aren’t inclined to drink recycled purified wastewater.

GE makes water treatment equipment and technology. It commissioned the survey to figure out whether there was opposition to re-using water as a solution to water scarcity, wrote Deborah Zabarenko for Reuters.

Eighty-three percent of a 3,000 total residents of the U.S., Singapore and China surveyed online reported they were concerned about the availability of clean water in the future, but Americans showed less understanding of water issues than those of the other two countries.

Zabarenko quoted Heiner Harkhoff, president and CEO for water and process technologies for GE Power & Water, as saying, "We see water re-use as one of the key methods of addressing water scarcity that we have and the increasing gap between water demand and supply. For us, it's an interesting and important driver in the markets around the world that we serve."

Zabrenko also wrote, “It also found what it termed an "ick factor" when Americans were asked about having wastewater recycled into drinking water - only 30 percent supported this - though 51 percent were in favor of swimming in recycled water and 51 percent agreed that it was drinkable.”

The results showed exactly what farmers have recognized. People don’t know where their food comes from and the same is true for the water they drink. Education about reuse of water and water-use efficiency must be advanced for Americans.

It appears that the toilet to tap title for any program of recycling water scares the general public, although they see such water is appropriate for almost any use except drinking.

What is interesting is that many or most communities next to major rivers of the nation have acquired at least part of their water from rivers for decades, and those towns and cities turn around and release their treated wastewater back into the river. The same thing occurs downstream at the next town/city—water out of the river and treated wastewater back into the river.

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