It runs through the San Antonio River, cools industrial power plants and keeps golf courses green across the state. Starting next year, it will flow from household taps in West Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle.
As population growth and the worst one-year drought in Texas history make finding new supplies of water more urgent, one source seldom comes up in polite company.
"One thing attractive about this water, as long as people are taking showers and flushing toilets, there's a source of supply," said Robert Mace, deputy executive administrator at the Texas Water Development Board.
Wastewater — the water that runs down the drain as you brush your teeth, wash dishes and clothes, shower, and flush your toilet — will be increasingly important to Texas' future. The 2012 state water plan predicts use of reclaimed water will grow by about 50 percent by 2060, to 614,000 acre-feet per year, or more than 20 million gallons.
California, Florida and a few other states already add treated wastewater directly to the drinking supply, but this will be a first for Texas.
For more information, see our Water Filtration research center.