Applaud Waste Water Recycling Initiative


Target: California Department of Transportation Director Malcolm Dougherty

Goal: Support rest stop wastewater recycling in drought-stricken state.

As California climbs farther into a severe drought with no end in sight innovative ideas to save water are more important than ever. That’s what makes the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) ingenious rest stop waste water filtration system so special. The Dunnigan rest stop north of Sacramento typically sees about 2,000 visitors a day, with an average waste of 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of water. Dunnigan’s new closed-loop wastewater filtration system not only drastically limits water waste from toilets and urinals; it’s found a way to use recycled plastic to do so, making it a model for water waste management around the world. Support this important water conservation effort.

If given the right environment, sewage water is capable of effectively filtering itself, breaking down and removing pathogens and coming out clean on the other side. Since the water used for toilets and urinals doesn’t have to be potable, the process is relatively simple. What sewage water most needs to filter itself is a material with a high surface area to volume ratio just like that of shredded plastic, making water treatment systems the perfect outlet to recycle plastic while saving water. Other than the plastic, only volcanic pumice has to be included in such simple treatment systems, making them cheap and easy to reproduce.

The Dunnigan water filtration system isn’t only important for its role in drought-stricken California; it acted as a test-site for closed-loop black water filtration in developing countries and a system mirrored after Dunnigan’s was recently installed successfully in Kiberia, a Kenyan slum. The system in Kiberia was made especially useful due to the areas high level of plastic bottle waste, spurned by a deep and warranted mistrust of local tap water. The slum—Africa’s largest—now has 15 flushing toilets, which improve hygiene and save valuable water.

Sign this petition and applaud the important efforts of those involved in creating and implementing this solution to two major global problems.


Dear Mr. Dougherty,

The black water filtration system installed in the Dunnigan rest stop with the blessings and help of California’s Department of Transportation could be a major and positive step for the future of many. Not only does this ingenious system save precious water by cleaning sewage cost-effectively, it also helps tackle another serious problem in our world today: plastic waste.

In a country that throws out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and faces the daunting and likely impossible task of truly recycling every used bottle, innovations like these are as much a commodity as the water inside these wasted containers. In addition to the many benefits the U.S. faces thanks to such systems, developing countries in desperate need of clean water stand to benefit exponentially from these efforts.

I support and applaud this innovative filtration system and its widespread applications.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Matthewdikmans via Wikimedia Commons

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