THE ISSUE: Recycling wastewater for public supply.
OUR OPINION: Let’s look at other methods first.
Toilet water is back in the House.
House Bill 715, filed by Florida state Rep. Randy Maggard, R-Zephyrhills,would compel the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt specified rules for using reclaimed water as potable water — drinkable water — as an alternative to continued reliance on the Floridan Aquifer and surface waters.
Gov. Rick Scott had vetoed HB 1149 in 2018 that would have expanded uses for wastewater, declaring that Florida has stringent water quality standards that should not be relaxed. That bill proposed to inject the treated wastewater into the aquifer.
Now, the new bill asserts, “Developing water sources as an alternative to continued reliance on the Floridan Aquifer and surface waters will benefit existing and future water users and natural systems within the state.”
HB 715 proposes to: “Allow recycled water to be used to the fullest extent possible as a source for public water supply.”
Also to: “Ensure that any water recycling projects permitted and operated under new regulations implemented by the department (of Environmental Protection) are considered environmentally acceptable and not a threat to public health and safety.”
That last bit is good to know, if we are considering the possibility of consuming recycled toilet water. Which is essentially part of what the bill is proposing.
Maggard claims in HB 715: “Water recycling projects require significantly more planning and financial investment than non-potable water supply projects and these projects need incentives to be implemented.”
Safety and savings — of both water and money. That’s what we have to consider. No matter what, it is true we must find ways to treat reclaimed water effectively for public safety, but also as cost-efficiently as is possible.
Essentially, drinking water aside, we still feel there are many uses for reclaimed water that are not being explored or utilized.
And legislators should first make sure those opportunities are being maximized. Make it law that businesses like golf courses, car washes or heavy manufacturing facilities that use large amounts of water for production purposes use recycled water.
Also, support infrastructure efforts that would make recycled water easier to use in all agricultural endeavors and consider extraction taxes for wells that now pump directly from the aquifer and bypass paying for water.
There are a number of ways to conserve water for the future without trying to turn wastewater into drinking water.