Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Wee' Will Not Drink

At the mention of the NeWater, you would either go 'Eww' or "Wow".

Singapore is a little island nation and natural water supply is scarce. In its continuous pursuit of a sustainable self-sufficiency model, NeWater study was initiated in 1998 on the viability of recycling water from treated sewage . Because of its unconventional source, many are taking a long time to accept its suitability as drinking water.

On the other hand, many applauded the success of NeWater and are keen to copy the technology back in their countries.

By now, there are a total of 4 NeWater factories producing about 75 mil liter of NeWater a day. This water is of potable standard but it is largely used for industrial purposes. The main reason for such diversion of use is mainly due to consumers' psychological barrier of drinking treated sewage.

If you are told that NeWater is cleaner and purer than tap water or bottled water, will you easily switch your stand? Perhaps not and you are not alone.

The US space agency is having a similar idea as the NeWater. They will be installing a water regeneration system in its space shuttle Endeavour which will distill, filter, ionize and oxidize wastewater - including urine -- into fresh water for drinking. The gear will help to ensure a good supply of fresh water for the station crew. One astronaut candidly said that the system "will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee".

Now, the issue of drinking urine is going outer-space!

Space technology is constantly improving allowing spacemen to stay away from Earth over a prolonged time. However, they can only be away as long as their water supply can last them. With the use of the new system, the water issue can be set aside.

Tests have proven that the recycled water is safe and has past the blind taste test. But meanwhile, NASA has to defend criticism that they are taking recycling a little too far. While they have no lack of proof that the recycled water can be purer than the water we drink on Earth, not everyone can stop feeling disgusted.

For now, so long as we are presented with choices, conventional sources of water supply will always be preferred. The 'pee water' idea will take some time to go down well with everyone but I am quite sure that in a few generations' time, we will be looking back and be amused at our baseless fear.

Till then, I guess the idea of drink you own pee is just too much to stomach.

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