The thought of water going from your toilet, then on to a treatment plant, and back out of your faucet, may be a little difficult to swallow, but it's a possibility being considered at Lubbock's City Hall. Ches Carthel, Lubbock's Water Planning Manager, says, "There are many industrial uses in the city of Lubbock that treated effluent could be used for and one of the long range uses we are considering is the potential for re-use as drinking water."
A river just north of Slaton is where some of the city's treated waste water is discharged now. If you look closely, you will notice the waste water is actually clearer than the river water. If the same water were to be re-used and consumed by Lubbock citizens, it would require an additional, extensive amount of treatment. That would be expensive, but the water would be pure. Carthel says, "Water that comes out of your faucet has to meet strict state and federal guidelines regardless of the source."
Other cities in Texas have been using treated waste water successfully for years. In El Paso, it's used to replenish aquifers underneath the city. They use it for irrigation, and watering school fields. It's even available for residents. Karol Parker of El Paso Water Utilities says, "There are people who are wanting to have this and we can't extend the system fast enough." And, as Carthel says, the truth is, no water is new water. "Quite frankly, anyone who lives along the Mississippi or down stream of us is drinking someone else's used water."
Right now, the City of Lubbock is trying to determine how much it would cost to put a new waste water plan in place. Estimates so far have ranged from $30 to $80 million.