The recycled water issue has arisen here in WA, where our state water minister Graham Jacobs has come out as a proponent.
There is nothing wrong with recycled drinking water. Surely all the water we drink has been through the digestive systems of a hundred million organisms over the history of the Earth anyway. Hence, the “yuck factor” is an astonishingly inane reason to reject water that we’ve recycled ourselves. It’s entirely psychological – nobody has shown reason to believe that there are any actual safety issues (except insofar as dihydrogen monoxide is inherently unsafe, of course, but if you’re worried about that then you’re truly a sucker).
There are plenty of other things one might find cringeworthy about the food and drink we consume, from the component parts of a chicken nugget to sugar content of so-called “flavoured water”. These are far more legitimate points of concern than either the imaginary dangers or “yuck factor” of recycled water.
The shadow water minister seems to be hedging his bets, though:
The Opposition’s spokesman for water, Fran Logan, supports the strategy, but says he is concerned about the public response to the longer-term recommendation to source water directly from waste water treatment plants.
“With respect to taking waste water directly from a sewerage works and then putting them through a recycling plant and turning it into straight drinking water, I think the Minister is going to have a big job on his hands convincing West Australians that’s fine and that’s ok to drink,” he said.
One would have hoped that Mr Logan, being someone who purports to support the idea, might actually do something to help reassure the public of the safety of recycled water, rather than promoting the fears of its opponents.