Hooking up to reclaimed water

Reclaimed Benefits
Reclaimed water at a treatment facility
Reclaimed water at a treatment facility (Credit: UF/IFAS Extension)

You have likely heard or read about reclaimed water in your journey to sustainability. It is pervasive, existing in nearly every Florida county. Many parks, golf courses, and larger spaces use exclusively reclaimed water for irrigation. It can be used to power cooling towers, fill up infiltration ponds, and even in wetlands restoration.

While not every residence has reclaimed water access, those that do can make a valuable difference in our ongoing water conservation effort. Reclaimed water customers also see significant financial savings when it comes to irrigating their lawns with a price difference of at least $2.00 per 1,000 gallons. That means a potential savings of over $90 a year. Think about all the nice outdoor plants that could get you!

Hooking Up

Now, you may already have a hook-up to reclaimed water in your home or community. That is excellent! For those who don’t, here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions, adapted from an interview with Brian Fagan from Sarasota County Public Utilities.

Question: How can I connect?

Answer: You can connect to an existing pipeline if it is close enough to your residence. New communities are required to hook up to reclaimed when completing a land entitlement application.

Rain sensor in rain
Rain sensor (Credit: Frank Galdo)

Question: How should I use reclaimed water?

Answer: Use it as you would any other source. Moderate your use with a rain shutoff device such as a soil moisture sensor or rain sensor. Keep in mind that reclaimed water contains trace amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, so try to keep it off impermeable surfaces when possible. This will help prevent nutrient runoff into nearby water bodies.


Question: Can I use it on my edible plants?

Answer: Do not use reclaimed water on any vegetables or fruits that cannot be peeled or cooked. It is fine to use on most other plants, but its salt content may make it a poor choice for more salt-sensitive plants.

Question: What is the standard cost of hooking up a community to reclaimed water?

Answer: The cost varies depending on the situation. It can generally be around $20,000 to $50,000 for a typical community.

You can view existing reclaimed water pipelines through the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Reclaimed Water Lines and Facilities map. If you are interested in starting the conversation about reclaimed water with your community’s board, you can reach out to Brian Fagan for more information. Reach him at bpfagan@scgov.net or (941) 861-0918.

An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Single copies of UF/IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county UF/IFAS Extension offices. Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities. View the complete policy at www.scgov.net/ADA.

Posted: September 11, 2020

Category: Conservation, Recreation, Water
Tags: Irrigation, Pgm_Water, Reclaimed, Water

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