Recommendation For Recycling Water In Florida Essay

, Research Paper

Recommendation For Recycling Water in Florida

Prepared for: Tom Petty, Chairman Of The Board Department Of Environmental

Regulation Board

by: Environmental Specialist, Pasco County Florida

November 29, 1996


Abstract…………………………………………2 Executive




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.

Executive Summary

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

water demand.

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

near future.

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

water source.


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.


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