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Potable Reuse of Wastewater Being Considered in Florida

A workshop on wastewater reuse was held at the University of South Florida on February 15. At the workshop, Mehul Patel of California's Orange County Water District explained operation of the Groundwater Replenishment System, which produces about 70 million gallons per day of high quality potable water. Orange County's system takes wastewater which has gone through primary and secondary treatment, then further treats the water using microfiltration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation to produce water which is purer than existing imported water. The treatment process uses half the energy required to pipe water from Northern California, and much less energy than proposed sewater desalination plants.

Some Tampa Bay City Council members are proponents of augmenting the city's water supply with some of the 55 million gallons of highly treated wastewater the city now dumps into Tampa Bay each day. Tampa Bay Online has editorialized in favor of this concept, and an article in the St. Petersburg Times also covered the workshop and discussed the issue. Although online comments to the St. Petersburg Times article indicate that a lot of public education and outreach will be necessary to garner public support, it is encouraging that more and more communities in the United States are considering potable reuse of wastewater and the dual benefits (dependable local water supply and reduced wastewater discharges) that this approach entails.