Locals react to city recycling wastewater for drinking

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 9:31am

Yum or yuck?

The El Paso Public Service Board wants to recycle wasterwater into drinking water so customers don't go thirsty during the Borderland's driest months.

The PSB, which manages El Paso Water Utilities, is paying ARCADIS, an international engineering and consulting firm $542,000 to develop some preliminary sketches for a water treatment plant, and work in conjunction with PSB, as well as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to develop the project.

Officials say it'll take several years to complete, but will be well worth the wait.

"This source is always available - it might be more expensive, but it's always there for use," said John Balliew, President of the El Paso Water Utilities.

The $80 million project will recycle 10 million gallons of wastewater a day into drinking water - the PSB is calling it a "drought-proof" solution, and locals we spoke with said they're on board.

"The fact of the matter is we need to use the water that we have effectively and efficiently and recycling water is what the world and what the earth is doing all the time," said William Vaughn.

"I recently just went to a wastewater cleansing plant and I think it's great, it'll help save a lot of money, a lot of water too," said Marc Nelson.

Whether it's to be used in homes, schools, or local businesses, officials say the recycled water will be safe to drink.

"By the time we get to the end of it, it's a much high quality water than we would get out of the Rio Grande to put into our water treatment plant," said Balliew.

He says wastewater in El Paso is cleaned through a wastewater treatment plant process, and later released into the Rio Grande.

The new water project will take that already treated water and treat it some more by filtering and disinfecting it so nobody gets sick drinking it.

"I think it's going to be more expensive trying to get it elsewhere," said Luis Carrillo.

PSB is confident that El Pasoans will support this innovative method to get water from toilet to tap.

For more information, visit http://www.h2otogether.org/

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