Recently, the Water Resources Department has received several inquiries about our reclaimed water system. So, our Water Conservation office created this info sheet to help answer some of your reclaimed water questions.
Is the Reclaimed Water turned off?
No. Your reclaimed water is treated sewage effluent that comes from two different City facilities: the Blue Heron Water Reclamation Plant and the Osprey Water Reclamation Plant. At no time have both of these plants been offline at the same time.
At the end of July and beginning of August, the Blue Heron plant was not sending out reclaimed water to the distribution system, only to the wetland system. The facility experienced an equipment malfunction and treatment difficulties resulting in the chlorine content in the reclaimed water not meeting minimum standards, so according to regulations, we could not send it out to our customers. The issues have been resolved and we are again sending out flow from this plant.
If the reclaimed water wasn’t turned off, how come my sprinklers did not come on?
Your sprinkler system is set to work at a specific pressure. Our Osprey plant is located on the north end of Titusville, while the Blue Heron is on the south end. On those days that the Blue Heron was not sending reclaimed water out to the system, residents on the southside of Titusville would have experienced reduced reclaimed water pressure, which may have prevented their sprinklers from working.
To make matters more complicated, the actions of other reclaimed water users on the system can adversely affect you when we experience dry weather like we have this summer. How? Because when it has not rained, some reclaimed water customers start watering their yards more often than allowed by our irrigation restrictions. Their over-use depletes the supply of reclaimed water available to other users.
Why does it matter if other reclaimed water customers don’t follow the restrictions and water too much?
Reclaimed water is treated sewage effluent, which means it started out as sewage. That sewage was treated at one of Titusville’s two reclaimed water treatment plants and then distributed to be “reused” for irrigation. The amount of reclaimed water we have to distribute is based on the flow of sewage we received. A toilet flushes at 1.28 to 1.6 gallons per flush, an energy star washer uses about 15 gallons a load, and a low flow showerhead uses 2 gallons or less per minute. But a sprinkler system can use a thousand gallons every time it comes on. There is a limited supply of sewage, which limits the supply of reclaimed water. When someone irrigates 3 times a week instead of the mandatory 2 times a week, they are using reclaimed water someone else could have used.
Most of the time, the fact that there is a limited supply of reclaimed water isn’t obvious to our customers. However, that limit becomes obvious when we don’t get our daily rain during the summer heat. Lack of rain causes people to water too much and too often when their turf begins to brown or their flowers wilt.
Instead of turning on the water, homeowners should turn on their creativity by trying to make their yards more drought tolerant and their irrigation more effective. You can reduce thirsty turf areas and expand plant beds with native and Florida-friendly alternatives that require less water; you can create natural berms and plant layers that reduce water runoff from your property; and, you can adjust your irrigation system so that sprinklers irrigate green areas, not driveways, streets, and sidewalks.
What are the reclaimed water restrictions?
Reclaimed water users are required to follow the same irrigation restrictions as people who use city (potable) water or well water for irrigation. During Daylight Saving Time (what we are in right now), March 13 through November 6, irrigation is restricted to twice a week. Homes with even-numbered addresses may irrigate on Thursdays and Sundays. Homes with odd-numbered addresses may irrigate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Businesses may irrigate on Tuesdays and Fridays. In the fall when we return to Eastern Standard Time, the irrigation schedule changes to once a week. You can always find the irrigation schedule under the water conservation pages on this website.
Can I get a credit on my water bill if my reclaimed water isn’t working?
No. Reclaimed water is an accessory service: It is not necessary for basic health and safety. Interruptions to service can and do occur. If our supply becomes limited, like when people water when it is not their day, or if the quality of the reclaimed water does not meet state standards, then service is discontinued until an adequate supply is available or until the water meets standards.
Since reclaimed water use is limited to irrigation and commercial cooling towers, interruptions to service, although inconvenient, are not life-threatening.
Whenever there is any kind of service interruption due to quality or mechanical issues, Water Resources works to restore service as quickly as possible. We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of our customers during these interruptions. If customers experience service interruptions due to other customers using too much, too often, possible solutions would include initiating a consumption charge for all users and/or an automatic fine.
Who regulates reclaimed water?
Reclaimed water is regulated through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Since it is treated sewage, it must meet specific standards before it can be distributed. Something as simple as the cloudiness of the reclaimed water (turbidity) can prohibit the city from distributing it.