Article by UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Urban Horticulture Agent Lorna Bravo
Were you aware that May 17-23 is Water Reuse Week in South Florida?
To promote and encourage efficient use of reclaimed water, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board officially recognized May 17-23, 2020, as Water Reuse Week.
Our Water Source
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each American uses an average of 100 gallons of water a day at home. This does not even include water used to manufacture products we use or the food we eat. As urban communities grow, the question is, how can we accommodate growth and conserve natural resources such as water? South Florida’s Biscayne aquifer is the sole source of freshwater for South Floridians. (SFWMD, 2008) The Biscayne aquifer underlies an area of about 4,000 square miles, and it is the primary source of water for all Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach The Biscayne aquifer is highly permeable and lies at shallow depths everywhere, and it is susceptible to contamination.
Were you aware that Florida’s irrigation of turf and landscapes represents the single most significant use of water from municipal water supplies? (Haley, et al. 2007).
Does it make sense to use the same water we drink on our lawns?
Instead, we can use reclaimed for our lawns and landscapes.
What is reclaimed water?
Reclaimed water is the process of converting wastewater into water that can be reused for other purposes. It provides an alternative way of recycling water, but it may not be qualified for drinking or sanitary purposes, but is adequate for irrigation. It reduces our consumption of potable water and strengthens the conservation of freshwater resources.
Reclaimed Water in Florida
Did you know that Florida leads the state for using reclaimed water?
In 2018, Florida used approximately 797 million gallons of reclaimed water per day. This effort reduced the use of 422 MGD (over 154 billion gallons) of potable quality water. The average per capita reuse in Florida is 38.23 gallons per day per person. (FDEP 2018). Florida encourages using reclaimed water as an alternative water source to reduce the pressure on potable water supplies. Utilizing recycled water can help to solve local water supply challenges as additional water supply sources become necessary.
Florida’s Future Water Demand
To meet Florida’s future water demand will require multiple efforts. Although Florida is applying new and innovative measures to reduce landscape water consumption, traditional methods of water restrictions and plant selection prevail. Homeowners that use reclaimed water for their source for irrigation can avoid most problems by adopting Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM principles of planting the right plant in the right place and by irrigating only the yard when the landscape needs water. Reclaimed water provides an opportunity for Floridians to reduce our freshwater consumption for landscapes.
We need to continue water conservation education and engage our future generation with a lasting connection between human beings and the use of their natural environment. We need to become better stewards of our natural resources and remind everyone that sustainability starts in our backyards. Your yard is the first line of defense in preserving Florida’s fragile environment.
Let’s celebrate Water Reuse Week in Florida. Recycled water can help solve local water supply challenges as additional water supply sources become necessary.
To read more about Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM visit: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/broward/urban-horticulture-and-natural-resources/fflresources/
Broward County Florida-Friendly Landscaping Lecture Series
Join us virtually on April 12 for our new Florida-Friendly Landscaping Lecture Series in Broward County and learn what it takes to have your yard Florida-Friendly Landscaping Certified! You can register at Meeting Registration – Zoom
Do you want to receive our quarterly Broward Green Bites newsletters? It has terrific horticultural educational information and resources. You can download them directly at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/broward/urban-horticulture-and-natural-resources/publications/
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human, and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities and 67 county Extension offices, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.
Contact UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program.
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