They say we are in a drought. We are. They say we are running out of water. We are. They say there can be economical and political collapse with no water. That’s true. So, what are we doing about it all?
It’s starting: We are able to recycle water. The technology exists, and Israel has led the way by reusing 95% of its water, which is equivalent to recycling water 12 times. Others are now following suit. A shining example in San Francisco is the new Salesforce tower, which saves 76% of its water use. That means it uses less water, and also reduces its waste stream significantly. This is very important, especially when water rates are going up over 10% for intake and almost 10% for wastewater disposal.
There is a definite financial payback on this application of water reuse: The wastewater can be used and recycled into non-potable water uses in toilets, boilers, chillers, irrigation, etc. The City of San Francisco is supporting these efforts with both legislation and funds. I expect that cities around the world will do the same as new buildings begin to incorporate these innovative approaches and retrofit the older ones.
If we are to thrive as people, we must learn to live with what we have and reuse and recycle anything we can. Water is the perfect place to invest in this process.