As Florida’s population continues to grow, the demand for fresh, clean water also increases, which will lead to more widespread, severe and more prolonged water shortages. The majority of Florida's population lives near the coast, and population growth continues to center on coastal areas. Near the coast, ground water supplies are limited, shallow, and vulnerable to overdraft, contamination and salt water intrusion. Reuse helps to conserve potable water supplies since reclaimed water is used in place of potable water for certain purposes. In addition, many reuse activities can help recharge ground water supplies.
Florida does not have large, rapidly flowing streams to assimilate large discharges of the wastewater generated by its growing population. Its numerous streams tend to be small. They flow slowly and are warm year-round. They flow into lakes or coastal waters that are prone to excessive growth of algae, water hyacinths, and other nuisance aquatic weeds. In a state that depends upon the high quality of its surface waters for an important tourist industry, as a drawing card for growth and development, and as a basis for a high quality of life, protection of these surface waters is critical.
To protect the quality of valuable surface waters, wastewater treatment facilities have become more advanced and sophisticated and much more expensive to build and to operate. With such limited opportunities to discharge treated wastewater into surface streams, more and more communities are turning to reuse of reclaimed water as a way to manage their wastewater.
Reuse can help the state meet the water supply and wastewater management needs of its growing population. Recognizing this, Florida promotes reuse of reclaimed water and water conservation as major state objectives.
"Reclaimed water" means water that has received at least secondary treatment and basic disinfection and is reused after flowing out of a domestic wastewater treatment facility. "Reuse" means the deliberate application of reclaimed water for a beneficial purpose. Related terms concerning capacity versus flow.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.