Water Reuse Critical To Trinity River's Survival
By Sara Jerome
Water reuse processes may be keeping the Trinity River alive.
The Texas river remains robust despite persistent drought conditions in the state, and officials attribute this strength to water reuse programs.
"The Trinity's flows have remained relatively strong thanks in part to a robust reuse program in North Texas, according to officials and environmentalists working along the river," The Texas Tribune reported. "The Dallas area returns much of the water it takes from the river back in the form of treated wastewater. Downstream, Houston residents rely on that reused water."
The National Academy of Sciences underscored how critical recycled water is to the Trinity.
"During summertime and other times when the river’s natural flow is reduced, the river consists almost entirely of treated wastewater as it flows away from Dallas and Fort Worth," it said in a case study on water reuse.
About half the river's contents are made up of treated wastewater, according to the study. "After treatment, the potable water from the Trinity River meets Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards," the study said.
Drinking former sewer water is controversial in some places, but it is a welcome strategy in Texas, according to officials at Trinity River treatment plants.
“Flush twice Houston needs the water. It used to be a joke. Now it’s more of a water strategy. The folks in Houston will say ‘Yes, please do,’” said Glenn Clingenpeel, with the Trinity River Authority, on KHOU.
NPR saw some irony in the Trinity River storyline.
"Once called the 'River of Death' because it was so polluted with sewage and waste from slaughterhouses, the Trinity River has defied the great drought and helped maintain one of Houston’s critical supplies of water. And much of the credit goes to what a century ago made the river so polluted: the wastewater from Dallas-Fort Worth," it said.
Image credit: "River Dove, Dovedale, Derbyshire," © 2010 eamoncurry123, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en