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California Drought: Orange County expands 'toilet to tap' water recycling




Giant pipes carry sewage water to be filtered in the micro-filtration area, the first of three different steps in the water recycling process.
Giant pipes carry sewage water to be filtered in the micro-filtration area, the first of three different steps in the water recycling process.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Giant pipes carry sewage water to be filtered in the micro-filtration area, the first of three different steps in the water recycling process.
The water then enters the first step of the recycling process, micro-filtration. Sewer water is forced by air pressure through a series of microfiber membrane modules that are 5 inches wide and 47 inches long.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Giant pipes carry sewage water to be filtered in the micro-filtration area, the first of three different steps in the water recycling process.
The underground backwash tank in the micro-filtration area holds 10,000 gallons of waste from the filtration process.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Giant pipes carry sewage water to be filtered in the micro-filtration area, the first of three different steps in the water recycling process.
Workers use control panels in the micro-filtration area. Mirco-filtration technology was first invented by German scientists shortly after WWII.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Giant pipes carry sewage water to be filtered in the micro-filtration area, the first of three different steps in the water recycling process.
After the micro-filtration process, the water is transported through these pipes to the transfer pump station, which holds up to two million gallons of water at a time. Motors inside the pump station reach up to 1,250 horse power.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


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One way state officials hope to make California better able to withstand drought is to stock underground drinking water supplies with recycled wastewater. Water managers across the state could learn from Orange County -- an early adopter of recycled water.

KPCC's Ed Joyce says the county water district is looking to expand its use of what some call toilet-to-tap.