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Some Californians Can Drink What The Astronauts Drink: Recycled Wastewater

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Orange County Water District General Manager Mike Markus sips purified recycled water from the tap at the recycling plant.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The astronauts drink it, so why can't Californians? We're not talking about Tang, but purified recycled wastewater.

Everything you flush or that goes down that sink or shower drain can be recycled. Technology exists that also allows you to drink it. Sound nasty? Most people think so too. 

“A lot of people have an apprehension about the water, wondering whether it’s safe because of the source that it’s coming from,” says Mike Markus, general manager with the Orange County Water District. 

Orange County and other water districts are already making wastewater potable. But current state regulations require the water be pumped into groundwater basins before it can be delivered to homes. Taste tests before that step are allowed only at the recycling facility. A new law in January would allow districts to bottle 1000 gallons of purified recycled water a year.

“We’re using it for educational purposes to help educate the public that we can safely purify water that at one time was wastewater.”

The bottles won’t be on store shelves. But water districts can now give taste tests wherever they go.