Speed Reads

Toilets to taps

MSNBC's Chris Hayes drinks recycled Los Angeles sewage water for Earth Day, humanity's future

"Earth Day is the one day every year when you can't avoid news about the climate," but stories about world leaders pledging to cut emission targets are "pretty dull" for most Earthlings, Politico's Michael Grunwald wrote Thursday. Worse, they "don't usually make us think about how we live or what we drive or whether our species can survive on the only planet with pizza and breathable air and decent Wi-Fi, which is what the climate issue is really about."

MSNBC's Chris Hayes had some climate change–related news Thursday night, but it wasn't dry.

California, land of perpetual water shortages, has "tried a million different ways around the problem," Hayes said, "but now Los Angeles has come up with a pretty brilliant and innovative solution to that city's water crisis — with an interesting wrinkle." Los Angeles buys most of its water from the Colorado River in Arizona, but that river is drying up due to climate change, so L.A. is looking for a Plan B. Jacob Soboroff, on Earth Day, reported on the city's big bet: Recycled wastewater.

Los Angeles dumps 225 million gallons of treated wastewater into the Pacific every day, Soboroff said. "Now L.A. engineers and scientists are working on an ambitious plan to, by 2035, turn L.A.'s wastewater into L.A. drinking water." Los Angeles wouldn't be the first city to recycle wastewater — Wichita Falls, Texas, gave it a go in 2014 and 2015 — but it would be the largest. L.A. already has a pilot program "using very advanced technology" to redirect "toilets to taps" (or "showers to flowers," as Mayor Eric Garcetti likes to call it), Soboroff noted, and the city gave him — and Hayes — samples of this very clean water to try.

They drank it, for home and science. "We don’t have to freak out every day as if our home were on fire," Grunwald writes, "but Earth Day is a good day to remember that it is."