World Toilet Day 2017 Theme is Wastewater

For the past four years, the United Nations has designated November 19 as World Toilet Day to inspire action to tackle the world-wide sanitation crisis. The goal is to ensure everyone everywhere has access to toilets by 2030, making sanitation a global development priority. This year’s theme was“wastewater” and it hit home, especially for the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District).

United Nations sustainable development targets include halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse.  They look to waste being contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way.

OCWD and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) have recycled wastewater, first with Water Factory 21 during the 1970s, followed by the creation of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS)—the world’ largest advanced water purification project for potable reuse, in 2008.

OCSD takes 130 million gallons per day (mgd) of treated wastewater and sends it to OCWD where it enters the Groundwater Replenishment System’s three step process: microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet light with hydrogen peroxide, to become 100 mgd of drinking water so pure, it’s near-distilled quality and surpasses drinking water standards.

There are currently 23 advanced purified water facilities for drinking water around the world—in the United States, Singapore, Africa, Europe, and Australia. Seven are located in California, which says a lot about the desire and forethought of the public for sustainable water supplies. Yet, new projects are still difficult to get off the drawing board due to the psychological “yuck” factor.

The District has made valuable inroads to teach the masses and convert naysayers about water reuse. It has created the H2O Learning Center, where visitors can take self-guided tours through a large, museum-like, hands-on education hallway of its administration building. More than 4,000 people each year take a tour through the GWRS and enjoy a pre-tour presentation. OCWD hosts events and programs for children and industry leaders as well as the general public.

OCWD and the Sanitation District feel an obligation to help the water reuse cause whenever possible, especially in the Golden State. That’s why OCWD staff and those of OCSD are visiting key locations and audiences within California during their Bottled Water Campaign. The two agencies are actively distributing a limited amount of bottled GWRS water, which allows them to help Californians understand and change what can be a difficult first impression. The proof is in the water and now the public can have a taste for themselves.

Please visit the bottled water website to learn when staff might be coming to a community near you or someone you know.

Help California and, by way of role model, the rest of the world embrace water reuse as trusted, reliable, sustainable and a solution to wastewater woes globally.

OCWD created a special video to commemorate the 2017 World Toilet Day and we invite you to view it.