Muddied Waters

Mike “Never seen a hornet’s nest I don’t like to kick” Aguirre is back at it. With his usual “state the obvious and stand back while everyone reacts in shock” (as in “My but isn’t that Sunroad building in Kearny Mesa just a tad high?”) Aguirre pointed out Tuesday that San Diego is just going to have to find itself additional sources of agua. That is, if we want to keep the taps tapping, toilets flushing and sprinklers sprinkling anywhere near as much as we do now.

And a primary source would be to recycle waste waters, pumping all that liquid gold we now pump into the sea through treatment plants and back to our taps.

Critics have long derided this concept as “Toilet to Tap,” which helps conjure up such primal associations of revulsion amongst people (After all, none of us ever really have recovered from that ordeal of potty training now, have we?) that the resulting visceral reaction by the public always makes this idea a non-starter, flushed without even having the chance to flush.

OK, all you out there terrified by “Toilet to Tap”, I’ve got one eensy-weensy question for you. Where the heck do you think your tap water is coming from right now?

San Diego imports most of its water and the biggest glass of that water comes from the Colorado River, beginning as snow melt in Colorado before taking to its fourteen hundred miles of wandering to the Sea of Cortez. San Diego is at the end of that long spigot. Between us and that pristine snow pack everyone seems to think is still flowing through their taps here in San Diego millions of living creatures dip their feet and whatever else into this water source.

Okay, forget about the bears and other forest fuzzies wizzing into our water supply as it courses through that bio-hazard of microbes and bacteria affectionately known as nature. But think about the millions of people between us and that Rocky Mountain high sticking straws into the Colorado, sucking out what they need and then flushing back what they’ve used into its so–called pristine waters. Where do you think the good peoples of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona send their flushings? Some abandoned salt mine two mountains over from the nuclear waste storage facility? And all those hundreds of thousands of weekend sailors out on Lakes Powell and Meade? You think they take their leftovers back home in a ziplock? Think again.

The fact is, by the time the mighty Colorado reaches California, its waters have already been significantly muddied by the feet (metaphorically) of millions of others. We are already recycling other peoples’ leftovers. So maybe it’s time to put the hysterical three year old in us who runs out of the room screaming “Toilet to Tap! Koodies! Yucky!” to bed once and for all.

Grow up, San Diego. If you want pristine water move to a moon of Jupiter. In our closed system biosphere we call earth everything has been recycled countless times. If it’s any consolation, just think that some of the molecules in that next glass of water you get from the tap today may have flowed through Mose’s or Ghandi’s colon! That’s the way it works.

So go easy on Aguirre when you want to maul him for again having the audacity to state the obvious. You’re already drinking toilet to tap. What’s one more trip through the reclamation plant, then?


5 Responses to “Muddied Waters”

  1. Frank Says:

    Your notion of the supposed water pollution of surface waters delivered by nature is pathetic. I can see that none of your credentials includes science. You spout the same old tired, as well as incorrect nostrums, about drinking surface water as some other political writers. I suggest you do some serious study of hydrology before you attempt to write again on this topic.

  2. mlaiuppa Says:

    And if we had planned ahead and already put some of these solutions into place we wouldn’t be scrabbling around at the last minute trying to come up with a quick solution to something that was predictable and inevitable.

    We live in an arid climate. We cannot subsist on our current rainfall under our current use. We never could.

    You cannot outlaw lawns and gardens. If you simply raise the rates those that have money will simply pay, not conserve. Or do like, who was it? Former Mayor Susan Golding, who put in TWO water meters? One for the house and one for the yard. Way to keep those tiered water rates low. That’s leading by example.

    We need both aggressive recycling AND desalinization. We also need to embrace the use of gray water. I’ve got a recycling washing machine (really) but could always save the gray water and reuse it. I’ll be looking into putting gutters on my house to direct water into rain barrels. What we need is our government to help us, not hinder us.

    I’m trying to get my Photovoltaic System up and running. Trying for…..6 weeks now. What’s the hang up now? My newly upgraded 125 amp service is now in the wrong place and must be relocated. City inspectors passed it. SDG&E doesn’t like it.

    Can’t wait to see how they’ll obstruct and hinder any methods I use to try to recycle/save water.

  3. Carl Luna Says:

    Frank — Lighten up! The crack about the bears and forest fuzzies was humor–sarcasm–tongue-in-cheek. And you don’t need a Ph.D. (as I assume you have) in hyrdology to understand San Diego is between a dry rock and a dry hard place when it comes to water supplies, especially with the judicially ordered cutting of water supplies from the Sacramento Delta come next year. And that embracing water reclamation and recycling only makes sense.

    Sense, Mlaiuppa, that mayor Sanders doesn’t seem to have with his flat out rejection of Mike Aguirre’s proposal. Better start stocking up on bottles of water and replace the front lawn wiith dirt.

  4. mlaiuppa Says:

    Thanks, Carl but most of my yard has been converted to brick patios and walkways, at great expense I might add. I have kept a little green. Why? Not just aesthetics. Green keeps the house cooler. And it helps with Global Warming. (Although I doubt my little bit is much help.) I’ll be planting three espaliered dwarf fruit trees on the south side of my garage now that it’s newly painted. It will get drip irrigation on timers to conserve as much water as possible. What I really need is a system of saving rain water and gray water so that I can water my yard with it. Why hasn’t San Diego been doing this? Encouraging this? Helping people to design a system to conserve as much water as possible? Because…..those in charge can afford to pay their water bill no matter how high it goes.

    I can’t remember the last time a candidate I voted for became Mayor. (The last time a candidate I voted for got on the City Council was Christine Kehoe. Man…..I miss her.)

  5. Waterboarded « Political Lunacy Says:

    […] for all you who “dis” reclamation with the pejorative “Toilet to Tap” label, as I wrote back in September, shaddup already. You obviously don’t have a clue where that “fresh” water from your tap has […]

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