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Use of reclaimed water is optimized by the decentralized location of Los Angeles' Tillman plant. Photos: Metcalf & Eddy

Public acceptance is only one part of the equation. Tchobanoglous said that strategic application of the appropriate technology must play a critical role in solving tomorrow's water crisis today. “One of the trends that we're looking at now is decentralized wastewater management,” he said. “The largest example of that in the United States is the Tillman plant in Los Angeles. The plant is up in the collection system, but it's also close to where reclaimed water is being used. That's key to making reuse workable. In the future, wherever there's a pump station, there will probably be a reuse facility attached to it.”

Presently, the only solution to the world's imminent water shortage is to learn how to efficiently and effectively manage the limited resource that we have. The answer lies in water reclamation and reuse. So for everyone in the world, the question is this: Will we remember the spring when we drink the water?

Jim Anderson is chief engineer with Metcalf & Eddy, Wakefield, Mass.