Toilet-to-tap: don’t drink poop, unless it’s treated really, really well

Don’t eat poop, and if you do, cook it.

Australians may be trying out don’t drink poop, unless it’s safely treated.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australians will be encouraged to embrace treated sewage for drinking in the largest-ever bid to overcome the”yuck factor” and push the contentious option onto the national agenda.

A $10 million drive, partly funded by the federal government, aims to convince the public that introducing recycled water to drinking supplies is a palatable, cost-effective alternative to measures such as desalination.

The ”engagement strategy” will target households, students, politicians and the water industry.

Public scepticism and fears over health risks have traditionally kept the toilet-to-tap concept off the political agenda.

The chair of the project’s research advisory committee, Ian Law, said recycled water for drinking should be examined before crisis loomed ”when dams are full … so we have the ducks in a row when the next drought comes”.

The project, led by the University of NSW, will develop a national engagement program to show that recycled water is safe and reliable. It will include devising education programs, a social media campaign and MutantFishdemonstration projects where the public could see wastewater being treated. Similar schemes overseas allow visitors to sample the water.

The Brisbane-based Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence is co-ordinating the project, which will also examine recycled stormwater.

In a terrible example of risk communication, Mr Law said, ”There is nothing more powerful than an informed public,” he said, adding those who drank recycled water wouldn’t ‘”grow five heads.”

The target audience will remember the five-heads bit.