, Research Paper
Recommendation For Recycling Water in Florida
Prepared for: Tom Petty, Chairman Of The Board Department Of Environmental
by: Environmental Specialist, Pasco County Florida
November 29, 1996
Results………………………………………….5 Basic background
information on water reuse in Florid…5
Reclaiming Waste Water in Florida Uses for reclaimed or reused
“Recommendation for Recycling Water in a Florida Pilot Plant”
The water shortage problem has affected all of us in one way or another.
Either through the mandatory restrictions or the increased price of water, or
even the ever increasing occurrence of sinkholes, the evidence of a water
shortage is everywhere. Since we need water to survive, and there are no
alternatives to support life on this planet, we must find a way to keep up with
our ever increasing water demand.
This report presents the water shortage problem that is occurring in
Florida. This report will familiarize you with the problem and explain the
other uses currently being employed in Florida. This report also explains the
procedure, as well as a recommendation including the site and costs involved,
along with a short background on the proposed procedure. I recommend that the
recycled project be funded and allow the pilot plant to meet the ever increasing
demand for water in Florida.
The water shortage problem effects us all in one way or another. Either
through the mandatory restrictions or the increased price of water, or even the
ever increasing occurrence of sinkholes, the evidence of a water shortage is
everywhere. Since we need water to survive, and there are no alternatives to
support life on this planet, we must find a way to keep up with our expanding
I feel that the only viable option is to recycle the water we are using.
By recycling the water, we will be able to drop the price and stop the sinkholes
from occurring and ease the mandatory restrictions placed upon us by the water
The research that was completed and all the information I gathered
showed that a price of $50,000 would cover all the expenses needed to set up a
pilot plant, including the labor which will be done in-house.
The $50,000 required will be recovered in less then a year’s time, and
since it will also satisfy the voracious appetite for water, I feel it is a
viable option. The plant could be operational in 3 months upon approval of the
funds. I feel this option is both economically and environmentally feasible and
would like to get started as soon as possible.
Water, our most precious resource, is becoming in short demand. With
water use increasing every day here in Florida, will there be enough water for
everybody? We live in a state where people are migrating into every day, due to
the desirable climate and recreation options. With this influx increasing at an
alarming rate, where will we get the water to supply the demand? Clearly, at
the present rate of use the water table is decreasing. As we see more and more
sinkholes, due to the overpumping of the water table, we realize another
alternative must be developed. This completion report will update you on the
progress of the option of recycling the water in our Pasco County test plant, at
the Moon Lake plant. We use water every day and in many ways. We use water to
take a shower, brush our teeth, water our lawns, wash our laundry and cars or
just simply to support our very existence. Clearly we cannot do without water,
and there simply is not enough to go around. One alternative is to recycle the
water. We already treat our waste water with processes that result in a water
99.5% pure. If this water was to be sent to a water treatment plant to be
processed along with the water already being processed, there would be plenty of
water available. This water could be used as potable water, for drinking or
cooking, or for laundry or irrigation. The reclaimed water could be reinjected
(deep well injection) into the aquifer to offset the amount being pumped every
day. Enclosed is a flow chart through a waste water and water plant already in
use. There is little or no modification required to accomplish recycling of
water. Once the water completes the treatment at the waste water facility, it
would be rerouted to the head, or beginning of the water treatment plant. As of
this point in time, we have completed a flow chart designed for your plant and a
brief estimate of the costs involved.
The facilities already in use to process the water we drink now could be
used with little, or in some cases no modifications. This would alleviate our
water shortage problems both now and for future generations. With the reclaimed
water we would not only save existing supplies, but probably drop the cost of
water below that which it is now. According to our estimates, the changes to
the Moon Lake Water Treatment Plant will cost approximately $50,000; this
includes labor, which will be done in house.
The scenario is that the water effluent leaving the wastewater plant
will be sent to the headwork’s of the water plant, complete the journey through
the water treatment plant and sent out with the other potable water. At the
present time the water leaving the waste water plant is simply used for
irrigation or dumped into drying ponds. With this new technology this wasted
water can be used for drinking water, saving both our resources and money that
is presently being spent pumping water out of the ground. This has already been
in use in for some time in New York. We have observed excellent results with
this scenario in the Westbury plant we inspected. We expect to achieve equally
successful results in the Moon Lake plant as well. This should alleviate the
water shortage and also bring the cost of processing potable water down in the
To carry out this project, I performed the following tasks: 1.
Completed the approximate price of recycling waste water. The estimates include
labor and materials and, since no additional land is required, the $50,000
estimate should cover all expenses. 2. Picked out the sight for the project,
and have included a flow chart, which is attached for you to get an overall idea
of what to expect. 3. Solicited and received prices of the materials required.
4. Upon your approval of the recycling option, we will draw up blue prints and
lay out the floor plans for the expansion required to recycle water. Once the
funds have been made available, this will be carried out immediately, and we can
go over the blue prints and see if they meet your approval.
First I will provide a basic background on the feasibility of water
recycling and the progress already made in the state of Florida. Then I will
propose the next step: instead of using the recycled water for irrigation use
only, I propose the water to be used for drinking purposes as well. Basic
background information on water reuse in Florida
Reclaiming Waste Water in Florida
As recently as the mid 1960s, secondary treatment and surface water
discharges were considered the norm for Florida’s wastewater treatment plants.
As the population doubled between 1950 and 1960, and once again between 1960 and
1980, Florida created more treatment plants to keep up. In 1966 there were
nearly 600 treatment plants in Florida; by 1986 this had increased to 4,250, and
by 1993 this stabilized back down to about 3,500. The vast majority are small
with about 80% having a capacity of less than 0.1 MGD. Collectively, they
represent only about 3% of the total permitted capacity of all domestic
wastewater facilities in the state. This can be a problem since it is usually
economically unfeasible for these small plants to be able to provide any sort of
water reuse. Another problem is that Florida’s warm, slow-moving streams and
sensitive lake and esturine require tighter treatment requirements. This has
led to an increased interest in land application of treated wastewater and reuse
technologies to both clean up the wastewater effluent, and to find another
economically suitable use for it.
The first reuse projects were created for Tallahassee and St. Petersburg.
These have significantly influenced reuse in Florida and have paved the way for
today’s multitude of reuse projects. Tallahassee initiated testing of spray
irrigation systems in 1961. This has evolved into a 2000 acre system for
farmland. St. Petersburg implemented an urban reuse system in the late 1970s.
Here reclaimed water was used for irrigation of residential properties, golf
courses, parks, schools, and other landscaped areas. The experimental work that
was conducted by the State Virologist for the St. Petersburg project serves as
the basis for Florida’s high level reuse disinfection criteria. In the 1980s,
the creation of the CONSERV II citrus irrigation project was implemented in
portions of Orlando and Orange County. Project APRICOT, which is an urban and
residential irrigation project in Altamonte Springs (Orlando), and the Orlando
wetlands project are among some of the more recent projects dealing with water
In 1987, the five Water Management Districts (WMD)of Florida
established the Water Resource Caution Areas(WRCA). These are areas that have
existing or projected (20 year) future water resource problems. These areas
collectively cover all of the eastern half and southern half (including far
north of Tampa) of Florida, in actuality about two thirds of the state in all.
State legislation is now requiring the preparation of reuse feasibility studies
for treatment facilities and the “Water Policy” requires the use of reclaimed
water within the WRCAs, unless the use of reclaimed water is not economically,
environmentally, or technically feasible.
Florida’s antidegredation policy, which is contained in permitting and
surface water quality rules, applies to all proposed new or expanding surface
water discharges. It requires demonstration that the proposed water discharge
is clearly in the public interest. As part of the public interest test, the
applicant must evaluate the feasibility of reuse. If reuse is determined to be
feasible, reuse is preferred over surface water discharge, or other means of
disposal. Florida’s Chapter 62-610, FAC of the reuse program contains detailed
rules for reuse of reclaimed water. It regulates slow rate land application
(irrigation), rapid rate land applications systems (rapid infiltration basins),
absorption fields (a form of rapid rate system involving sub-surface placement
of reclaimed water), and other land application systems. Part III of the
chapter deals with irrigation of public access areas (golf courses, parks,
schools, and other landscaped areas), residential properties, and edible food
crops. Other urban uses of reclaimed water, such as toilet flushing, aesthetic
uses, fire protection, construction dust control, and others, also are regulated
by Part III.
The WMD for the south region of Florida stated that in 1995, six percent
of the 243 individual water use permits issued included reuse. All of the water
use applicants were required to evaluate the feasibility of reuse. Nearly 75%
of the 163 wastewater treatment plants that have a capacity greater than 100,000
gpd practiced reuse for all or part of their disposition of reclaimed water.
They collectively treated 772 MGD of domestic wastewater and 112 MGD (15%) was
reused. The number could have been higher, but 35% of the total wastewater
treated contained excessive amounts of salts and was rendered unsuitable for
reuse. Most of this is due to infiltration (permeability) of the sewers by
saltwater canals and does not appear to be addressed for repair any time in the
The South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) is involved in
two funding assistance programs. The Cooperative Funding Program will fund up
to 50% of the cost of design and construction including pumping, storage, and
transmission facilities and reuse master plans. A total of 90 of these projects
have been budgeted through Fiscal Year 96. The New Water Sources Initiative
Program provides funding for alternative water supply projects. Nine of the
sixteen current projects utilize reclaimed wastewater or storm water.
In the SWFWMD region over half of the 180 largest wastewater plants
supplied 104 MGD of reclaimed water. This was 33% of the total volume of
wastewater generated in the district. In some areas of SWFWMD the demand for
reclaimed water now exceeds the available supply.
With The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the five WMDs,
and the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) all playing roles in the reuse
program, some sort of coordination is needed. This is done by the Reuse
Coordinating Committee. This committee is chaired by DEP’s Reuse Coordinator
and consists of representatives from the DEP, the WMDs, and the PSC. The
committee meets on a regular basis to coordinate the many reuse activities. In
1993, the committee published “Reuse Conventions,” which included an overview of
the reuse program, made recommendations for increasing program effectiveness,
and established standard terminology and procedures to be used by the members in
their efforts to encourage and promote reuse.
Wastewater reuse is becoming very popular in Florida. It has been
projected that the capacity for reuse by the wastewater plants will collectively
increase to about 1390 MGD. This is an increase from the 1995 reported number
of about 850 MGD. The infrastructure that is needed to transport the reclaimed
water is what appears to be missing. This is something that will cost a lot of
money, but will be a necessity in the future, especially for South Florida
(Florida Water Resource Journal 32-35). Uses for reclaimed or reused water
As you can see, reused water has many irrigation and aesthetic uses. I
would like to take these uses one step further, as a potable drinking source. I
feel that by taking the water from the effluent or from the output of the
wastewater plant and recycling this water to the headwork’s of the water
treatment plant already in use, we can reuse the water we have been discarding
as non-drinkable water. The water treatment plants already in use are capable
of providing drinking water from the waste effluent with no or little
modifications. The wastewater is already being used elsewhere and now I feel it
is time to start to look to this vast supply of usable water as a new drinkable
Obviously, we don’t have enough water available to meet the ever
increasing demands. The most economically and environmentally sound choice
therefore is to reuse the water readily available to us. We have the technology
accessible to use to make this a viable option and I feel we should pursue this
option. This would almost completely alleviate any water shortage we have,
since all the water we use would be recycled back into drinking water, thus
relieving the demand to pump more and more water from an already over used
I recommend that the funds be made available for the pilot plant to be
put into effect, and allow us to take the next step in water reuse in Florida.
The new plant will drastically reduce the amount of water now being pumped from
the ground, thus reduce the sinkholes and alleviate the water shortage problem.
I feel the small investment is more than worthwhile and will be recouped in a
year’s time. I would like to start this project and bring this new technology
to light and begin a new generation of water treatment.
Young, Harley and David York (1996, November). “Reclaimed Water Reuse in Florida
and the South Gulf Coast.” Florida Water Resource Journal, pp. 32-35.