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Recycled Water Debate

Water is a commodity necessary to sustain life on earth.

Without it the world would come to an abrupt dead halt, which is why considerable efforts are invested into water conservation methods because it has become common knowledge that fresh water is a depleting resource in many territories worldwide. Recycled water is one of most controversial topics in environmental law and policy formulation, as it is also a viable alternative to mitigating fresh water consumption.

There is often resistance towards integrating recycled water into drinking water.

Recently, the people of Ethekwini (otherwise known as Durban) in South Africa are one example of how “lay” people are not convinced by the idea of recycled water. The Mail & Guardian, a widely read South African newspaper, reports that a petition signed by five thousand residents of the Ethekwini municipality was submitted to the municipality. This petition emphatically rejects the idea of supplementing drinking water with recycled water, questioning the safety thereof and citing religious reasons against the use of recycled water.

The primary concern seems to stem from the fact that recycled water is sourced from sewer waste, amongst others. Campaigns run by opposition groups such as the Australia based Citizens Against Drinking Sewage are telling of the view that people may hold towards recycled water.

In all fairness, the concerns that may arise vis-a-vis recycled water are legitimate and must be addressed accordingly. It is not easy, nor fathomable to many people that the water they flush down the toilet basin will return as drinking water in their taps.

In addition to that, there are people with very strong religious beliefs concerning what they may consciously ingest. The government therefore bears the mammoth task of ensuring that all fears are addressed and that the public gains insight into the safety of recycled water.

What is of utmost importance is that honesty and integrity informs all consultations and dealings with the public.

The point is to convince the public that recycled water is safe, not to further fuel the suspicions around recycled water.

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