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Safety of Water

Waterborne illnesses may infect more than 1 billion people who do not have access to safe water.

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Toilet Water Tea
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Toilet Water Tea


Recycling Wastewater

Student Exploration

Are you comfortable drinking water from your toilet?

Everyone is familiar with this old joke:

One day Ella’s mother went out to run a few errands, and her dad was left in charge of her. She was 2 years old. Someone had given Ella a little ‘tea set’ as a gift, and it was one of her favorite toys. Ella’s dad was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when she brought him a little cup of ‘tea’, which was just water. After several cups of tea and lots of praise for such yummy tea, Ella’s mom came home. Ella’s dad made her mom wait in the living room and watch Ella bring him a cup of tea, because it was ‘just the cutest thing!’ Her mom waited, and sure enough, Ella came down the hall with a cup of tea for her dad. She watched him drink it up. Then Ella’s mom said (as only a mother would know), “Did it ever occur to you that the only place she can reach to get water is the toilet?”

As gross as it sounds, many countries around the world as well as many of the U.S. states have begun to adopt programs that recycle waste water and send it back through to our kitchen and bathroom sinks!

Check it out: http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/04/04/from-wastewater-to-drinking-water/

Extension Investigation

  1. California is leading the way in the U.S. with a few water cleaning facilities already up and running in Southern California. Check out the process and the challenges that they are facing: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/us/jan-june08/water_2-11.html What are the three steps in their filtration process? What are other ways (besides drinking water) that we can use recycled water?
  2. Did you know that this same strategy is being used up in space? Astronauts on the International Space Station are also recycling their urine and sweat! Recycling Water is not Just for Earth Anymore http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/behindscenes/waterrecycler.html
  3. Do you know how much water it took to make your iPhone? When we think of water conservation, we think of the everyday direct applications like washing the dishes or brushing our teeth. Conservationists are challenging us to think about our “virtual water” consumption: Everything You Know About Water Conservation Is Wrong Find out what your water footprint by using this calculator: http://www.h2oconserve.org/?page_id=503

Resources Cited

State of the Planet. Columbia University. http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/04/04/from-wastewater-to-drinking-water/

NewsHour. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/us/jan-june08/water_2-11.html

NASA. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/behindscenes/waterrecycler.html

Discover Magazine. http://discovermagazine.com/2008/jun/28-everything-you-know-about-water-conservation-is-wrong/?searchterm=water

H20 Conserve. Grace. http://www.h2oconserve.org/?page_id=503

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