Why Californians will soon be drinking their own pee

The problem with recycled water is purely psychological. Despite the fact the water is safe and sterile, the “yuck factor” is hard to get over, even if a person understands that the water poses no harm. In one often-cited experiment, researchers poured clean apple juice into a clean bedpan, and asked participants if they’d be comfortable drinking the apple juice afterwards. Very few of the participants agreed, even though there was nothing wrong with it. It’s forever associated with being “dirty,” just like recycled wastewater.

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While it’s not quite correct that every glass of water contains dinosaur pee, it is true that every source of fresh water on Earth (rainfall, lakes, rivers, and aquifers) is part of a planetary-scale water cycle that passes through every living thing at one point or another. In a very real way, each and every day we are already drinking one another’s urine.

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