$3 Million Federal Study: Do People Prefer Recycled Water, Bottled Water, or Tap Water?

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If you’ve ever wondered which tastes better, recycled wastewater, bottled water or tap water, a 2018 study has the answers.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, published the study on which type of water tasted better. The study was funded with $3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation between 2012 and 2016.

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The researchers asked 143 people to select which they preferred, with tap water being the least popular, while recycled water and bottled water scored about the same.

The study’s organizers noted that participants had to address the “ick” factor of drinking recycled water treated using reverse osmosis.

Indirect potable reuse, or IDR, removes virtually all contaminants, studies have found, and reintroduces treated wastewater into groundwater supplies, where it re-enters the drinking water system.

It’s a technology already used by six California water agencies, including in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and the city of Los Angeles.

Drinking recycled wastewater is helpful in California, which has struggled with droughts. So, while the water’s safety has been the subject of many studies, the University of California, Riverside felt it was time to evaluate its taste.

The study’s 143 people were presented with the three types of waters in similar, unlabeled cups and rated them from one to five based on texture, temperature, smell and color.

$3 million later and we know that people don’t hate the taste of recycled water. 

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.



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