The Future of Water Reuse in Florida

WateReuse FL poster

On November 3rd, 2014, the WateReuse Association of Florida brought together numerous policy makers, stakeholders, municipalities and other water professionals to expand discussion on the future of water reuse in the state of Florida. Spearheaded by Bart Weiss (Hillsborough County) and John Shearer (Central Florida Water Imitative), this event serves to highlight the forward thinking strides Florida is taking to preserve and consciously protect water resources.

We were joined by WateReuse Executive Director, Melissa Meeker, who opened the session with a discussion on resiliency of water systems and public outreach & education. She announced that the WateReuse Association is wrapping up research on successful public outreach, the products of which will serve to guide municipalities in educating their citizens and facilitate critical buy-in for the use of reclaimed water and, one day, direct potable reuse. Among potential ideas for outreach is the recommended rebranding of reclaimed/reused water to “certified” or “purified” water.

Direct potable reuse (DPR), treating domestic wastewater effluent for direct use as a drinking water source, has been a controversial topic in some areas. Researchers have come to learn that creating drinking water from wastewater by using state of the art technology is both safe and necessary for accommodating future drinking water needs. This is a result of water scarcity, and water demands increasing alongside population increase. DPR has been successfully implemented in NevadaWindhoek, Namibia, Wichita Falls, Texas, and Orange County, California. DPR facilities have been proposed for future implementation in multiple locations including other cities in California and Oklahoma.

Guy Carpenter, Carollo Engineers

Guy Carpenter, Carollo Engineers

Meeker was followed by the Water Reuse Technical Practice Director of Carollo Engineers, Guy Carpenter. Carpenter gave the audience and in-depth look at water reuse practices and regulations in the state of Arizona, California, and Texas. As an arid land, the state faces unique water source challenges. In Arizona, all aquifers are protected as drinking water sources (this is not the case for every state).  Water providers in portions of Arizona have the option of augmenting the aquifers with surface water or reclaimed water ; in so doing, they earn credits that can later be used for water withdrawals. With clear and present water scarcity issues, Arizona has an interesting story for other states to learn from.


The Future of Water Reuse in Florida meeting ended with several panel discussions.

WateReuse Panel

Mark Farrell of WRA Engineering moderating a panel discussion

Panelist participants included:

One panel discussed items related to Senate Bill 536, which mandated that FDEP coordinate with stakeholders to conduct a study on expansion of water reuse in the state. Janet Llewellyn has led efforts on the survey front, giving particular attention to water professionals’ perception of the impediments to implementation of water reuse. Llewellyn was happy to report that they received survey responses from approximately 3 times as many water professionals as they were expecting. Though the survey period is over, comments are still being accepted.

Later, Florida Water Management District representatives gave updates on the news of their respective districts. Some of the highlights included:

  • SJRWMD is involved in a long-term water supply planning project, Water 2020; water sources to meet demands to 2020 are being identified. Planning for the implementation of reuse is an important piece of their planning process.
  • Utilities within the SWFWMD beneficially reuses 46% of its wastewater (approximately 157 MGD reused); if you include rapid infiltration basins and sprayfields, close to 60% (approximately 200 MGD) is reused in the district.
  • Entities in the SFWMD beneficially reuse 32% of their wastewater.

The event facilitated very important conversations among state & local counterparts and water professionals. Together, these stakeholders work diligently to protect water resources and ensure that Florida water supplies are adequate and safe for future generations.

To learn more about water reuse, visit:


Mel Butcher, EI, is a former RECLAIM researcher and USF alumna. She currently works as an Environmental Engineer at MWH Global.

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