“We’re drinking the same water the dinosaurs did.”

Thought leader Robert Glennon always has a way with words. His LA Times op ed, “Los Angeles needs to reclaim what we used to consider ‘wastewater,’” just went live online and will run in tomorrow’s paper. Glennon, an expert on water policy, is congratulating LA’s mayor and water managers on their plan to recycle all of the city’s wastewater for public use by 2035.

The estimated cost to transform the current system – which empties wastewater into the ocean – is $8 billion, a seemingly high cost but “financially and environmentally wise in the long term,” Glennon says, because of environmental and climate changes. He reminds us that Prescott, AZ sold reclaimed water from its treatment plant for $67 million to a New York hedge fund in 2007, a quick case in point for the value of reclaimed water.

Instead of routing water to LA from Northern California and the Colorado River through the current expensive mix of tunnels, pipes and canals, Glennon says, “LA will use water it already has.” Residents of nearby Orange County, also in Southern California, are already used to drinking their reclaimed water, which may make selling the idea easier in LA County.

“There is nothing new about reusing water,” he says. “The Earth is a closed water system: We can’t make water; nor can we destroy it. We’re drinking the same water the dinosaurs did. Cities and farmers across the West are now discovering that what they previously considered wastewater has incredible value.”

Glennon, recipient of two National Science Foundation grants, is Regents’ Professor and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Arizona and author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It. Learn more here.