Florida takes important next step to secure its water future

Posted in: Municipal, Water

Water treatment plantFlorida currently uses nearly 6.5 billion gallons of water per day and is projected to need an additional 1.1 billion gallons of water per day by 2035. Our continued growth, status as a world travel destination, and economic success depend on identifying safe and sustainable alternative water supplies.

In January, the State took an important next step in securing its water future. The Florida Potable Reuse Commission (PRC) published its framework for the implementation of potable reuse. This culminates a nearly 2-year effort to evaluate the feasibility of potable reuse in Florida and identify the necessary next steps for implementation. Throughout the effort, the PRC remained committed to protecting public health and the environment.

The framework represents a consensus-based effort by water professionals and a diverse stakeholder group to identify and address technical, regulatory, and implementation barriers to potable reuse in Florida. The PRC consisted of representatives from WaterReuse Florida, Florida Water Environment Association Utility Council, Florida Section American Water Works Association Water Utility Council, and stakeholders representing agriculture, environment, public health, associated industries, and the Florida Department of Health. Collectively, these stakeholders recognized that advancing potable reuse within Florida required a common, united purpose – a purpose that considered the needs and addressed the concerns of all stakeholders.

The PRC examined Florida’s existing regulatory framework of statutes, rules, and practices that apply to the potable reuse of reclaimed water to determine what changes would better facilitate potable reuse. As a result of its efforts, the PRC recommended:

  • Proposed structure for potable reuse regulations in Florida which build on existing regulations, rather than wholesale revisions.
  • Revisions to existing drinking water regulations to recognize reclaimed water as a potential drinking water source.
  • Additional treatment requirements for this new source water to protect public health.

The PRC also recommended that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) develop and implement new regulations in concert with one or more technical working groups with a broad range of stakeholders. The Florida legislature has taken notice and proposed legislation this session (HB 715) which acknowledges the PRC’s efforts. This legislation will direct the PRC to create a technical working group to develop specific recommendations to implement potable reuse, and to work with FDEP to review and revise potable reuse regulations in the State.

To secure a robust economic future and meet the growing needs of residents, agriculture, and industry, Florida must obtain additional sustainable alternative water supplies. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the efforts of the PRC and the State Legislature have put Florida on the right path to a sustainable future

Chris Hill, PE, BCEE, ENV SP

About the Author

Chris Hill is Mead & Hunt’s national technical leader for water and is responsible for the assessment and growth of the firm’s technical capabilities and expertise. He has more than 25 years of diverse experience in water supply and treatment, including potable reuse. Chris is a member of the PRC Regulatory and Emerging Constituent Subcommittees and is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Florida potable reuse framework document.

Read more posts by Chris Hill, PE, BCEE, ENV SP

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