Wastewater and reclaimed water-disposal problem or potential resource?

L. R. Parsons, K. T. Morgan, T. A. Wheaton, W. S. Castle


Before 1980, many communities in Florida considered sewage wastewater to be a disposal problem. When it was proposed to convert wastewater to reclaimed water for crop irrigation, citrus growers were reluctant to accept the water because of fears of heavy metals, flooding, or disease problems. For various reasons, several reclaimed water projects were started, and Water Conserv II has become one of the largest agricultural irrigation projects of its type designed for the use of reclaimed water. The project distribution center is located west of Orlando and provides irrigation for over 4300 acres of agricultural crops. Reclaimed water is also provided for irrigation of the Orange County National Golf Center and West Orange Country Club. The water is chlorinated, is odorless and colorless, and has been used successfully for crop irrigation for 15years. Excess reclaimed water is discharged to areas of rapid percolation called rapid infiltration basins (RIBs). Water quality standards were established, and continued intensive sampling insures water of excellent quality for irrigation. The reclaimed water meets drinking water standards for a number of compounds including NO[sub3], SO[sub4], Na, Cl, Cu, Zn, Se, and Ag. Initial fears that reclaimed water would cause flooding, disease, or heavy metal problems proved to be unfounded. In the sandy, well-drained soil, high irrigation rates with reclaimed water (100 inches/year) promoted excellent tree growth and caused no major problems. This reclaimed water cannot provide complete nutrition, but does supply all the Ca, P, and B required by trees under Florida conditions. Because of a recent severe drought in Florida, attitudes toward reclaimed water have changed. Once believed to be a disposal problem, reclaimed water is now considered to be a viable resource that can meet irrigation demands. Average statewide reuse flow rates have increased by 116% in 10 years.


irrigation; effluent; drought

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283