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A guide to the dynamic economics, politics, and culture of the world's most populous region.

Flush it, process it, drink it. Repeat.

Tiny island of Singapore seeks water independence through recycled toilet water
Winn singapore 2011 03 03Enlarge
An overview showing hundreds of white latern balls inscribed with wishes and greetings floating on the Singapore river ahead of New Year holiday celebrations in Singapore on December 17, 2010. (ROSLAN RAHMAN)

The island city-state of Singapore is home to about 5 million people. And given the tropical clime, they're apt to stay thirsty.

These days, when they twist their taps to fill a glass of water, they must accept an uncomfortable notion: that water was quite possibly once flushed down a fellow Singaporean's toilet.

USA Today has just released a great article detailing Singapore's breakthroughs in turning wastewater into drinking water. This is a huge issue on an island that has long imported its water from neighboring Malaysia. Relations between the two are not always peachy and Singapore realizes the Malays could always play hardball by turning off the spigot.

Is this a disgusting last resort forced upon a far off land? No. As the USA Today article points out, we've been recycling wastewater in Fairfax County just outside Washington D.C. for decades.

Given the development boom in dry places such as California and the American Southwest, we'll need to increasingly recycle water that once swished inside a toilet bowl. And we'll likely end up following breakthroughs in Singapore, where the "toilet-to-tap" technology is deemed an issue of "national security."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/flush-it-process-it-drink-it-repeat