Florida Water Reuse Week highlights benefits of using reclaimed water

May 14, 2020

Purple pipes and sprinkler head
Purple on pipes and sprinkler heads indicates reclaimed water is in use.

You have probably seen purple pipes around your neighborhood or community, but do you know the important role the distinctively colored pipes play in helping to extend Florida’s water supplies? The purple pipes mean reclaimed water is in use, protecting our precious resources by reusing water for suitable purposes such as outdoor irrigation.

During our meeting this week, the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board voted to recognize May 17–22 as Florida Water Reuse Week. We are joining many others around the state in this annual observance meant to celebrate and encourage the use of reclaimed water whenever and wherever possible.

Florida is a national leader in using reclaimed water. Reclaimed water — wastewater that has been highly treated to remove harmful organisms and substances so it can safely be reused for beneficial purposes — has been used in Florida since 1966. The use of reclaimed water continues to increase for irrigating residential lots, golf courses and other green spaces, and for groundwater recharge, environmental enhancement and industrial purposes. In addition to serving as an alternative water source, using reclaimed water provides an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater.

Currently, there are 140 reuse systems in our 18-county District that use more than 218 million gallons per day of reclaimed water. We continue to actively promote effective use of reclaimed water through the District’s cost-share program, providing financial assistance to entities developing alternative water supplies. These include:

  • Water reuse
  • Pilot programs to explore innovative treatment technologies
  • Innovative uses and applications of reclaimed water

Since 2014, we have provided more than $66 million in funding for reuse projects, which today are responsible for more than half of the reclaimed water made available daily within our District. We remain committed to our cost-share funding program. In April, our Governing Board approved the ranking of 34 projects for cost-share funding consideration subject to budget adoption, including 11 to provide reclaimed water in Clay, Duval, Marion and St. Johns counties.

Thanks to our many local government partners, utilities and others who are investigating and implementing projects to expand the use of reclaimed water. Next time you come across some of these purple pipes, join me in seeing them as a sign of our progress in protecting our precious water supplies.

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