Like many metropolitan areas in the West, Los Angeles is having to get creative about its water supply. Environmental regulations have slowed the export of water from Northern California; this past winter’s snowfall in the mountains was lower than expected; and the widespread drought—the cause of last year’s extended fire season—has left reservoirs at dangerously low levels. One of the solutions the city is proposing is to use highly treated waste water recycled back in its drinking supply.

The water would not be returned directly to the tap supply, but rather injected into the ground to filter though sediment and back into the natural aquifers. Recycled waste water is routinely used in industrial applications or for outdoor use, but returning it to the drinking supply is a concept with which not everyone is comfortable. While the treatment industry claims the resulting water is more pure than tap water, community groups are asking for independent testing for toxins before the plan moves forward. The plan is currently making its way toward the City Council for approval.