by Zoë Schlanger Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 6:00 am CST Shallow Waters Shallow Waters is a nine-part series on border water and climate change. Llew Mejia/Quartz Part 8 El Paso is on the Cutting Edge of Water Conservation. It Really Has No Choice. Faced with a water crisis, El Paso joined with Ciudad Juárez to cut water use and save their shared aquifers. by Zoë Schlanger It’s possible, a few decades from now, humans living in water-scarce places will find it ridiculous that we spent centuries just flushing away our watery sewage. Didn’t we know we could have been drinking it? The idea of a closed-loop water system, in which we drink, expel, treat, and then drink again, is not new. The technology already exists to treat human wastewater to drinking water standards; water engineers call it by the polite (if euphemistic) name of “direct potable reuse.” But few city water utilities have been daring enough to try it on their customers, given its poor public image. On the other hand, El Paso, Texas, a land of scarce rainfall—it’s drier than Windhoek, Namibia, the capital of the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa—is charging into potable reuse with near-religious zeal….