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Environment expert says Brits need to be ‘less squeamish’ about drinking sewage water

Sir James Bevan says reprocessed sewage water is "perfectly safe and healthy".

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 30th August 2022

Brits need to be “less squeamish” about the idea of drinking reprocessed sewage water, according to the head of the Environment Agency.

With many of the country’s top water companies said to be planning “toilet-to-tap” systems – also known as water recycling – to turn sewage from toilets into drinking water by treating it, and with ambitions for toilet water to deposited into rivers near treatment plants so it can be collected and processed as drinking water by 2030, environment experts are now calling on the public to be “less squeamish” about the idea of it.

Sir James Bevan says reprocessed sewage water is “perfectly safe and healthy”, but admits that it’s “not something many people fancy”.

He added that people should “change the way they think about water”.

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Calling on people to “treat [sewage water] as a precious resource, not a free good,” Sir Bevan told The Sunday Times: “We need to remember where it comes from: when we turn on the tap, what comes out started in a river, lake, or aquifer.

“The more we take, the more we drain those sources and put stress on nature and wildlife.

Environment expert says Brits need to be ‘less squeamish’ about drinking sewage water / Credit: Glyn Baker (via Geograph)

“If we are going to get there, we are all going to have to think differently. Some of these measures will be unpopular, so future governments will need to show political will.”

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Sir Bevan’s comments come after 10 areas in England and Wales have officially been given drought status by the Environment Agency and six regional water companies have recently imposed strict hosepipe bans following prolonged dry weather and record-high temperatures.

People concerned about their water usage can make small changes to their lifestyle and still make a big difference, Sir Bevan added.

“Take showers, not baths. Cram the dishwasher or washing machine and only run it when it’s full, and fix leaks as many are in our own own homes, not water company pipes,” he suggested.

Featured Image – Danilo Pinzon (via Flickr)