There’s a lot of goodies in waste water. In a municipal waste water system, there's a tremendous amount of carbon content, which you can convert to energy.  So the idea of having a waste water plant that is carbon neutral or actually generates more power than it consumes, is a tremendous opportunity. 

Phosphorous is a dwindling resource globally, yet there’s phosphorous in waste streams.  So there’s some cool technologies coming out that are going to be able to selectively remove things like phosphate or metals like copper, from a waste stream and be able to process those into a finished product. 

So we need to stop thinking about a waste water stream as pure waste and look at it as an asset.  Think about recycled aluminum and plastic and all that used to be a pure waste stream, that’s now raw material for other processes.  So waste water in the future will be a raw material for many processes. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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