By Jay Hoecker, Water Resources Bureau Chief
Q: What is reclaimed water?
A: Reclaimed water is highly treated wastewater which can be used for irrigation and other uses to extend our water supplies. Reclaimed water is delivered through purple pipes, which you have probably seen in your community.
Q: What are some of the ways reclaimed water is used?
A: Reclaimed water is used to irrigate crops, residential lawns, schools, golf courses and parks. It’s also used in industrial processes for cooling towers and power plants.
Q: What is the district’s role in reclaimed water?
A: The district has been recognized as a champion and advocate for the beneficial use of reclaimed water and has partnered with local utilities and water users to maximize the beneficial use of reclaimed water as a safe and proven alternative water supply. Reclaimed water represents approximately 16 percent of all water sources used within the Southwest Florida Water Management District (district).
Q: What are the benefits of using reclaimed water?
A: Using reclaimed water helps meet current and future water supply needs in the region and is a vital component of the district’s Regional Water Supply Plan. There are many benefits to using reclaimed water, such as reducing potable water use, decreasing fertilizer application, reducing discharge into rivers and bays from wastewater plants and, most importantly, ensuring a sustainable and cost-effective water supply.
Q: What are the future plans and goals for reclaimed water within the district?
A: The district has committed to a long-term goal to beneficially reuse 75% of all available reclaimed water flows from treatment plants by 2040. You can learn more about the district’s long-term goals at www.watermatters.org/projects/reclaimed-water. To meet this goal, the district provides funding through our Cooperative Funding Initiative program to help communities develop reclaimed water systems. During the past 30 years, the district has committed more than $417 million to water reuse projects in west central Florida.
Q: How do I know if reclaimed water is available in my community?
A: Residents interested in reclaimed water service are encouraged to contact their local utility (contact information is provided on local utility bills) to confirm service availability. The district’s website also has a link to a Reclaimed Water Map Viewer, which shows major reclaimed water transmission mains within the district.
Q: Who regulates reclaimed water?
A: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the state regulation agency which monitors and enforces reclaimed water regulations.
Jay Hoecker is the Water Resources Bureau chief 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. Jay holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of South Florida.