Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Water crisis in the twilight zone, toilet to tap water

by Logan Hawkes

They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Whoever said it first may have had a vision of the future, a time when prolonged drought caused the lakes and rivers and reservoirs to run dry, a world where the demand for water far outpaced supplies.

In this vision of the future the rains have all but stopped and the snow clouds are stingy. Everywhere people collect rainwater from roof tops when and where they can and rationing is an absolute way of life. Gone are frequent baths, and showers, watering lawns and washing cars are permanently outlawed. In this future world swimming pools are dry and abandoned and prayer seems to be the last remaining hope of desperate times.

When all the wells dry up, things quickly transform a thirsty world into a nightmare, one of shadow and sorrow as the searing heat of summer cooks the Earth, and temperatures spiral higher as thirst finds its way into every home. Fields dry up, crops refuse to grow and before long neighbors and friends are haggling over what little water remains.

In our perfect world this picture of such a horrible future seems little more than a far-fetched dream. But hidden in fiction one can often find truth, so as we travel down this imagined road of make believe we see a distant sign post up ahead, and suddenly realize we have somehow entered The Twilight Zone.

Like living in a Rod Serling TV drama, a world of desperate water shortages is a future all of us would like to avoid. But escaping the inevitable is a monumental task, and water planners are warning that such a future is not only a possibility, but suggest we may already be traveling on a road that leads in that direction.

But, like the old saying, when the going gets tough, the human spirit has a way of rising to the challenge.

Just ask Wichita Falls water officials, who for the past ten years or so have been recycling waste water and funneling it back into the Red River. Now, city officials are asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to approve taking 5,000 gallons of treated effluent from the wastewater system and mixing it 50/50 with reservoir water for use in the city's municipal water system. If approved, when residents turn on the tap, know it or not, they will be using and consuming water that was once dumped into the city's sewer system.

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