U.S. Water News Online
LOS ANGELES -- Some experts are questioning the safety of a
city project that will recycle water for drinking.
The criticism comes as the $55 million reclamation project, in the
works for years, is awaiting a start-up decision.
City water officials say the water will be safe, but some experts
claim that tests for contaminants are unreliable.
``They're always inventing new chemicals for all kinds of
purposes, and they end up in the wastewater,'' said water reuse
consultant Daniel Okun. ``We don't know how to measure them because
they don't tell us what's there.''
Department of Water and Power officials say the water will be
``The water is safe,'' said S. David Freeman, the DWP's general
Recycling systems already operate elsewhere in California, as well
as Florida, Virginia, and Texas. Those projects have not led to any
reported health problems.
The East Valley Water Reclamation Project, prompted by a need to
find alternative water sources, involves reusing some of the water
that normally goes into sewage treatment plants for discharge into
The wastewater will instead be piped to the Hansen Dam spreading
grounds and allowed to percolate down through the soil to recharge
The process is designed to purify the water before it is pumped
out five years later to supply homes in parts of the San Fernando
Okun, a retired University of North Carolina environmental
engineering professor, said recycling water for human consumption is
an unnecessary risk.
Henry Ongerth, a former chief of the state Bureau of Sanitary
Engineering and a co-author of state regulations on water reuse, said
it is too difficult to determine potential sickness caused by the
water because the area's population is large and mobile.
``You can't prove anything,'' Ongerth said. ``It's almost
impossible to prove either way, safe or unsafe. It's a matter of
degree and a great deal of subjective opinion.''
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