Some 20 years ago, a well-known American beer brewer decided that a Southern California water district would damage its reputation for a quality brew—aided and abetted by competitive beer makers—if that district succeeded in its plan to build a recycling plant that would return purified water to the local groundwater basin that the brewery obtained its water from and, eventually, to the drinking water supply. Two decades later, a seemingly clever but ultimately inaccurate description of this forward-looking process of potable reuse, namely “toilet to tap” (T-to-T), still resurfaces among scare mongers and sensationalists who use it as pejorative shorthand in a hearts-and-minds battle for reliable water supplies.
T-to-T remains a phrase that haunts potable reuse projects more than 20 years after it was first coined. Cartoons still appear, showing the choice of drinking from your toilet, along with pithy captions. Yet if you believe that all bad things must come to an end, in large part that’s what is happening today: there are more potable reuse projects than ever being planned and implemented. And whether it’s drinking from a water tap or beer tap, public acceptance is becoming more prevalent than ever.