Capitol Alert

Try the treated wastewater, California legislator says

A Cutler man fills one of several containers with water from a kiosk located along the main street through Cutler on August 13, 2009.
A Cutler man fills one of several containers with water from a kiosk located along the main street through Cutler on August 13, 2009. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

California water agencies could soon be offering you a cool sip of...you.

Water scarcity, always an issue in California, has preoccupied policy makers more than usual during a multi-year drought. Many want the state to consider more opportunities to recycle and reuse water.

One of the touchier ideas is called “potable reused water” – in layman’s terms, treated wastewater. Despite scientists’ assurance that it can be safe, the idea still makes people queasy. State water regulations currently prohibit public water systems from offering it to customers.

“I want people to have the opportunity to try it,” said Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park. “We want to show folks that this water is safe, that it is something we can include in the future in our water portfolio in California.”

“A lot of folks say ‘oh my goodness, really?’” Gordon added. “What I would tell folks, though, is that the astronauts on our space station have been drinking this kind of water for decades. If it’s good enough to keep our astronauts alive, it’s probably good enough for us.”

Hence Gordon’s Assembly Bill 2022, which would allow water agencies to offer bottled samples of potable reused water. They can currently only do so on-site. Gordon’s bill would let them do so anywhere, as long as it’s for educational purposes, to help spread the gospel of the product’s safety and usefulness.

“We have witnessed that tasting and seeing is believing,” Cathy Green of the Orange County Water District, which sponsored the bill, said in a statement, “and we support legislation to bottle this type of water to help increase knowledge about and foster support.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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