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Clean up toilet water

September 02, 2007

Re "Making water," Opinion, Aug. 26

I commend Marc B. Haefele and Anna Sklar for bringing the issue of water conservation and reclamation back into the public debate. While it is regrettable that valiant efforts like the East Valley Water Reclamation Project continue to go unrealized, it is perhaps more regrettable that the even costlier desalination alternative lies in wait to appease the opponents of "toilet to tap." Although ocean water contains no human sewage, it's the stuff that marine critters use for their toilet. It makes far more sense to implement large-scale water conservation efforts and consider desalination for the 400 million gallons of highly treated water that the city currently dumps each day into the ocean. William O. Straub


The writer is a retired Department of Water and Power civil engineer.

There has been no major breakthrough in toilet water purification technology than what existed at the time of the 1998 report on the use of reclaimed water for drinking by one of the most prestigious research bodies in the world, the National Research Council. In its report, the council concluded that reclaimed water for potable use -- even filtering it for years through the earth, and other methods mentioned by Haefele and Sklar -- should be an "option of last resort." That is because thousands of potential toxins, carcinogens and mutagens, which are not tested, could possibly make it through the reclamation process. "Toilet to tap" is like Russian roulette.

Steven B. Oppenheimer


The writer directs the Center for Cancer and Developmental Biology at Cal State Northridge.

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