Jay Hoecker is the water supply manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. He is a certified project management professional, and his team is responsible for the planning, management and development of water supply and resource development projects in the 16-county region. Hoecker holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of South Florida.

By Jay Hoecker, Water Supply Manager

Q: What is potable reuse?

A: ‘Potable reuse’ refers to highly treated recycled water from various sources people can use for drinking, cooking or bathing. Recycled water, when used for potable reuse, is some of the cleanest water in the world. It is filtered to remove solids, treated to remove impurities and contaminants and purified to be better than drinking water standards. In fact, astronauts on the International Space Station use recycled water daily.

Q: Why should recycled water be added to Florida’s water supply?

A: Florida is growing at a record pace, with an estimated 1,000 people moving to the state daily. We also welcome an average of 350,000 visitors to our state each day. Our aquifers, lakes and springs cannot keep up with our need for water. In fact, we need an additional 1 billion gallons of water per day by 2040. Our supply is not endless; expanding the use of recycled water is one way we can help ensure there is plenty of water to meet the demand. This is part of our state’s plan to be more sustainable, diversify its water sources and protect the environment.

Q: Is this type of water safe to drink?

A: Yes. This type of recycled water uses proven technology to make the water safe. The water meets or is a higher quality than strict state and federal drinking water standards.

Q: How is this recycled water purified and treated?

A: First, recycled water, used for potable reuse, goes through multiple advanced pretreatment processes, aeration and nutrient removal. Next, the water receives additional filtration to remove microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and other pollutants. Although the water is cleaner than most drinking water across the world at this point, Florida requires recycled water go through additional final steps to ensure recycled water is some of the cleanest water on Earth. The last steps include protection through advanced disinfection treatments, such as ultraviolet light, ozone and peroxide. These commonly used processes ensure safe drinking water.

Learn more about recycled water at OneWaterFlorida.org.

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