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Recycling has become part of the daily routine in households around the world. It’s one of the easiest ways to preserve fossil fuels and protect forests from the comfort of home.

But what about the water? Can we recycle the water we use every day for showers, laundry and other household activities?

This episode of the Brainwaves podcast looks into the declining water reserves in the American West and what can be done with Douglas Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Program at the University of Colorado Law School. Kenney said the West's water reserves from this historically wet year won't last. In his mind, there's only one solution to the decades'-long trend of dwindling water supply: use less.

Jason Assouline sees one solution in toilet water. No, he isn’t suggesting you follow your dog’s lead and take gulps straight from the bowl.

Assouline, president of WateReuse Colorado, spoke to us about the virtues of the water treatment process called direct potable reuse (DPR)—or more commonly called toilet-to-tap. His office is stocked with beer, wine and bottled water all made from recycled waste water:

ASSOULINE: “The beer is delicious. They made a pilsner, a light beer, and that was by design that it was a very light and crisp and refreshing beer […] The whole point is to showcase the purity and the clarity of the water.”

BRAINWAVES’ MOLLY PHANNENSTIEL: “With DPR, all treatment happens in one place, transforming waste water to drinking water without moving it around—which can be costly—and without losing water to evaporation or leakage along the way.”

ASSOULINE: “The benefit right now is that you’re able to fully utilize every drop of water and minimize the amount of handling and discharge back to waters.”

PHANNENSTIEL: “Thirsty communities across the country, including Castlerock, Colorado, are seriously considering similar systems.”

ASSOULINE: “A lot of people are looking really closely and spending a lot of time and a lot of effort to make sure that the water treatment that goes into the processes and the public outreach all come together to make sure that the water is as safe if not safer than what everyone’s used to drinking on a daily basis from the tap.”

Also on this episode of Brainwaves, we talk with experts on the state of water in Las Vegas and the West more broadly. 

Full Transcript

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