Reclaimed water is one irrigation system staple that can help you conserve Tampa’s drinking water supply and save money at the same time. Let’s take a look at how reclaimed water systems work, and how they benefit you.
What Is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water is essentially treated wastewater. While most reclaimed water is only treated twice, reclaimed water at the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant goes through three major processes before it’s made available to customers. While reclaimed water meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s strict standards, it is still not suitable for drinking or bathing. Here are a few guidelines for how to use it:
|Use It for This…||Not That…|
|Irrigating your lawn and landscape.||Drinking water.|
|Filling decorative ponds and fountains.||Filling swimming pools or hot tubs.|
|Using direct irrigation to water vegetables and fruits that will be peeled or cooked prior to serving.||Connecting to a home or office for household use.
|Using furrow irrigation or drip irrigation to water crops that will not be peeled or cooked prior to serving.||Interconnecting with your drinking water pipeline.
|Supplying a commercial water-cooled air conditioning system.||Water recreation that involves water contact.|
Why Should I Use It?
Not only are there many uses for recycled wastewater, there are many benefits as well. For example, reclaimed water systems can help you:
50% of Florida’s drinking water is used for irrigation — and Tampa is not exception. The Hillsborough River reservoir is our main source for drinking water, and in the annual dry season, increases irrigation demand causes the water level to drop. Using reclaimed water for all of your irrigation needs can help the city conserve its drinking water in the summer months and for future generations.
Using reclaimed water for your irrigation needs could add up to significant savings on your water bill. If 50% of your drinking water is used for irrigation, you’re paying at least $2.09 for every 748 gallons of water used. Compare that to $1.20 for every 748 gallons of reclaimed water used. That could add up to hundreds in savings.
Have More Flexibility
Homes and businesses can use reclaimed water for irrigation without restriction. Just don’t overdo it — you don’t want to overwater.
Feed Your Plants
One great thing about reclaimed water is that it already has nitrogen in it — one of the ingredients found in commercial fertilizer. However, once you start using reclaimed water, you’ll want to keep tabs on your lawn and landscaping to see if any adjustments need to be made. You may need to lower your fertilizer levels or replace plants that have a low salt tolerance.
How Do I Sign Up?
Enroll in the Program
If you are not in the service area, you can purchase reclaimed water in bulk through the Howard F. Curren Advance Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Before you can get connected, you’ll need to detach and remove any connections between your irrigation system and drinking water system. Then, you can connect your irrigation system to the reclaimed water meter. Keep in mind that permits will need to be secured before any work is done, and an inspector will need to check the work once it’s completed. Be sure to read through all of the regulations available here.
When it comes to reclaimed water systems installation, you can do the work yourself, or hire an experienced irrigation professionals, like us, to handle everything for you. We, of course, recommend the second option.
A Word on Backflow Devices…
All customers who use a reclaimed water supply need to install a backflow prevention device. A backflow prevention device prevents water inside your pipe from going back into the city water supply, which can cause contamination. These devices are easy to install and should be tested annually.
Whether you need help with reclaimed water systems installation or want more information, our experienced irrigation specialists are here to help. Sunrise Sprinklers and Irrigation has been helping Tampa business owners and families for over 20 years. Call 727-772-3819 or email us anytime.
About the Author
Former U.S. Coast Guard and Tampa-native Joseph Swett is the owner of Sunrise Irrigation, a Palm Harbor-based company that has been providing sprinkler and irrigation services in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, for more than 20 years. A Rain Bird-trained landscape specialist, Mr. Swett is dedicated to helping Florida homes and businesses implement effective irrigation technologies and transition towards smart water conservation. In his spare time, Joe sponsors and plays in two men’s softball leagues, but also enjoys surfing and going fishing with his family.