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Wichita Falls to Recycle Toilet Water into Drinking Water

by: Natalie San Luis

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

Nope, it's not a two-weeks-late April Fools' joke: The city will be recycling 5 million gallons of "potty water" into (hopefully) clean and (fingers-crossed) drinkable water.

The decision to reuse the wastewater comes after existing restrictions have reduces waster usage by half.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tested the water for 41 days to ensure that it is safe.

Read more about potty water after the jump.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Wichita Falls residents have been utilizing rainwater harvest systems and reusing gray water since the severe drought began three years ago.

On November 15, 2013, the city banned all outdoor watering.

Now that the lake levels have fallen to 25 percent, Wichita Falls has entered stage 5 of drought restrictions.

The plan to recycle wastewater into drinking water was set into motion in April 2012.

The city is also considering cloud seeding to promote rainfall.

The project has cost $9 million but the city expects to recoup $6 million by eventually reusing the pipeline to reroute the 8 million gallons of wastewater discharge into Lake Arrowhead, the city's largest reservoir.

"If we come out of this drought in a year or two and get our lake levels back up to 60 percent, we could shut down this project and get the wastewater back to Lake Arrowhead," Barham said.

Meantime, Wichita Falls isn't putting all of its water in one bucket.

The city has a six-month, $300,000 contract with a cloud-seeding contractor that started on March 1, Nix said.

"We have a meteorologist looking at conditions every day. Research indicates that over time you can get 15 percent more rain," he said.

"These things we are doing are cheaper than building reservoirs, dredging lakes and drilling wells. We're trying the methods that give us the most water at the cheapest cost," Nix said.

Rain would be even better, Barham said.

"If conditions stay the same, if we don't have a summer like 2011, we've got about two years worth of water. Hopefully we'll get the rain."

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