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Pilot Project Hopes to Address Future Water Shortage


Published on Jun 14, 2021


Bartow, Fla. (June 14, 2021) —  Increased population growth and drought conditions have stressed Polk’s traditional water sources. In short, we are using more water than our surface and groundwater resources can supply.

To help address the potential problem, the Board recently approved a funding agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District for a direct potable reuse facility study and pilot project at the Cherry Hill Water Production Facility in the Northwest Regional Utility Service Area.

The agreement provides up to 50 percent reimbursement for the design, permitting, construction, evaluation, demonstration testing and reporting associated with the pilot project. The project is a feasibility study to develop a reclaimed water project concept to use up to 1.5 million gallons per day of reclaimed water for innovative methods to supplement ground water supplies in Polk’s Northwest Regional Utility Service Area.

The total anticipated cost of the project is about $1.5 million.

Potable reuse is a process that purifies water from wastewater treatment plants through advanced treatment methods to meet drinking water standards. The potable reuse study in Polk County will feature a Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) process. DPR is a process where purified wastewater is introduced into a drinking water treatment facility.

There are currently DPR pilot projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Texas, Oregon and Virginia.

The bar for potable reuse treatment practices is higher than that of other water sources. This stricter set of demands has created leading-edge advances in the treatments and technology used to ensure that contaminants are properly managed.

The goal of this potable reuse study in Polk County includes verifying that contaminants specific to Polk’s wastewater can be removed to meet strict guidelines.

If this pilot project finds it possible, potable reuse may provide an option for a locally controlled, drought-proof water supply alternative.