Thanks to Drought, Houston's Drinking More of Dallas's Wastewater Than Ever Before

Categories: The Environment
trinitymap.jpg
Click to enlarge a map of the Trinity River Basin, courtesy the U.S. Geological Survey
StateImpact Texas is a National Public Radio-KUT Austin-KUHF Houston joint dedicated to environmental issues. This morning, reporter Dave Fehling out of Houston looked at the water coming out of his tap and wondered: Where's it coming from? The answer: "It's the roar of many showers and toilets using water in the Dallas-Fort Worth area." And Houston's using more of Dallas's wastewater than ever before due to the historic drought, which is bad up here but far worse just a short drive to the west and south.

Listen to the whole piece here; I also transcribed some excerpts:
"'What happens when someone flushes their toilet in Dallas, that water gets treated to a certain set of criteria that allows it then to be put back into the Trinity River and it flows downstream. And then for drinking water downstream that water's taken out and treated again' -- treated again before it's used in Houston's water system."

"We learned that before the drought rainwater would dilute the Dallas water as it flows a couple hundred miles down the Trinity. By the time it got to Lake Livingston, it would make up only about one-eighth of the total flow. But now with so little rain this year that wastewater from Dallas is half of all the water in the Trinity."

"There are, though, contaminants scientists say that are missed by purification. They're called 'emerging contaminants' for which there are not yet any government health standards. They include prescription drugs, which people take and expel, or, for example, birth control pills. The hormones in them can pass right through all those filters, and, says scientist Jim Lester, do strange things to the reproduction of fish."
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35 comments
David Cornell
David Cornell

What's great about this is that this blog post appears in the Dallas Observer rather than the Houston Press. Ignorance is bliss I suppose.

guest
guest

it all flows downhill.  dallas is drinking oklahoma's pee too.

Eric
Eric

Funny thing Ozarka ibottled water. Dallas drinks it's own shit. Read the back of the bottle. It says " bottle at the source , Houston public water supply" who's laughing now

B1pep
B1pep

This article is about Houston, but were do you think your water is coming from...the same place. I don't remember seeing any fresh springs around the area.

Jimjoyce
Jimjoyce

Every drop of water on this planet has passed through numerous animals many times in the past.  Why are we so shocked?  This recycling of water has been going on for millions of years.

RS
RS

Did anyone else notice the map shows Dallas basically is urban land surrounded by "agricultural land"? No "forest land" in sight anywhere until you go further south toward Houston. 

RS
RS

Hormones (e.g. from birth control pills) and other medication is in water supplies all over, it's not city specific. Not sure how to address this problem, can't be good for any of us.

Storm_71
Storm_71

Anybody up for some Panchos tonight?

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

wow. shit flows downhill.  so look to the north as you wonder 'whats in Dallas water?'

guest
guest

Like the old saying goes,"better to be pissed off then pissed on!" or as they say in Houston,"better to be pissed off then have someone piss in your water!"

drinksonmeh-town
drinksonmeh-town

Now that's some high quality H2O(two parts Houston, one part O' shit!)

guest
guest

Bottoms up, Houston! Just think, Houstonians...now when somebody says that," you've got a shit eatin' grin", you can chime back with, "No, but I do drink it!".Also, what's one man's excrement is another man's thirst quencher(i'm looking at you, Houston)

SteveT
SteveT

Yet another reason not to live in or near Houston.

T3x
T3x

Even the earliest Dallas settlers knew better than to drink from the Trinity...

Paul
Paul

And this comes as a surprise?????

If it were not for the effluent from the wastewater treatment plants in the DFW area, the upper reaches of the Trinity would be dry in the summertime.

The NTMWD operates a wetlands area off of the Trinity for purifying water to be recycled.

One item that the article fails to mention is the time that it takes for water to flow from Dallas to Lake Livingston.  It is not as if the water from a toilet flush in Dallas this morning is coming out of the water fountain in Houston's City Hall at lunchtime.

Wasn't there a study of wastewater treatment plant effluent in the DFW area which identified one of the metroplex cities as having the highest concentration in the nation of tranquilizers in their wastewater plant effluent?

El Rey
El Rey

This explains so much about Houston....

Fletch
Fletch

Up a shit creek without a paddle...

The_help
The_help

Houston: drink...my....shit

Montemalone
Montemalone

I think the jokes write themselves for this one.

Dallas native
Dallas native

The trinity river is only in Texas so how is it possible for us to drink Oklahoma's pee?

cp
cp

The USGS team got lost in the Trinity River Forest...

RS
RS

Dude, you make no sense.

RS
RS

Not fooling anyone, Houston and Dallas are basically twins, except Houston is greener.

RS
RS

Your comment explains so much about you...

guest
guest

Now, you know what they say, "if you've got nothing nice to say, then stick it up your ass!". 

guest
guest

It's because of all that great fertilizer we send down y'alls way, via the trinity.

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