The volume of reusing treated wastewater (reclaimed water) is astoundingly huge in Florida – over 200 million gallons daily; just within the St. Johns River Water Management District. In that spirit, May 13th to 19th was recognized as the ‘water reuse week’ in Florida.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), along with a few agencies, emphasize on the benefits of reusing wastewater. Chuck Drake, the Governing Board Secretary, says that we need to use reclaimed water to support outdoor watering needs (domestic & otherwise) and reduce the burden on conventional water supplies. With this, he says, we can protect our natural resources and meet future water demands. The water reuse week was a great opportunity to inculcate public awareness for reuse and celebrate the underlying state-level affairs. He notes that every person’s effort matters as they make educated decisions about managing water.
According to Dr Ann Shortelle, the St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director, Florida is a national leader when it comes to water reuse. The department has partnered with agencies on cooperative funding projects to deploy and develop water reuse opportunities in their neighboring 18 counties. Florida utilities began using reclaimed water in the 1970s and they have become a major force in water management with a state-wide influence.
What is water reuse?
A lot of water is used for industrial and domestic purposes – cleaning, bathing, production, etc. Once used, most water becomes wastewater. This waster can be treated at multiple levels for so that it has some use in society again. Water reuse is the use of treated wastewater for beneficial outcomes.
What are the benefits of water reuse?
Communities can lower the burden on freshwater supplies and thus conserve it. Reuse is a favorable alternative to wastewater disposal which may have pervasive detrimental effects on the environment.
When reused water is used, the burden on fresh drinkable water is lowered which further liquidates the supply of drinkable (pun intended) water in homes, businesses, restaurants, etc. Desperate alternatives to the production or supply of drinking water can take a back seat.
Overall, reuse is being environmentally conscious at every scale.
Florida neighborhoods have purple pipes that distribute reclaimed water. Although this water is unfit for drinking, its uses are non-trivial. Irrigation is the largest use for such water. In fact, the month of May also puts a huge demand on irrigation water due to the hot and dry climate.
Upwards of 1.6 billion gallons of reuse from domestic treatment plants is permitted every day. For this purpose, Florida has a well established color-coded network of reclaimed water pipes.
The district, on the whole, takes special efforts in the promotion of effective and efficient applications of reclaimed water. The district is funding research studies and pilot programs that innovate and deploy treatment technologies. Opportunities for financial assistance have been created through cooperative programs so agencies can develop systems.
Interested in learning more about reuse wastewater technologies? Contact us today.