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Direct Potable Reuse Pilot

Polk's Need

Polk County’s population is growing at an exponential rate. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, about 46 people a day are moving into Polk County. That growth means an increased demand for services, including water.

The Upper Floridan aquifer that supplies water to Polk, and four other areas in Central Florida, is under tremendous strain. At our current rate of use, Polk will need an additional 21 million gallons of water per day by 2040. Like so many communities where water supply does not meet the population’s demand and a lack of groundwater availability threatens natural resources, Polk must continue to examine its options to supplement its potable supply.

What is Direct Potable Reuse?

Through engineering and technology, systems have been established and implemented to provide communities across the world with water safe for drinking. Potable reuse, is highly treated, recycled water that can be using for drinking, cooking and bathing.

There are two types of potable reuse, direct and indirect.

Florida DEP has map of potable reuse projects around the world. View map

Direct vs. Indirect Potable Reuse

The fundamental difference between direct and indirect potable reuse is the use of an environmental buffer.

Indirect potable reuse uses an environmental buffer (lake, river or a groundwater aquifer) to provide additional treatment before the water is treated at a drinking water treatment plant.

Direct potable reuse is wastewater that is treated all the way to drinking water standards and then sent directly to homes and business for all purposes. Direct potable reuse utilizes a process that uses technology to accelerate the treatment and distribution of water without an environmental buffer.

The Pilot

Polk County’s Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) Pilot project’s goal is to demonstrate that the direct potable reuse process can produce drinking water that meets or exceeds federal and state standards and provides an option for increasing Polk’s water supply in the future.

Through a joint agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the county is building a potable reuse facility to conduct a pilot project at the Cherry Hill Water Production Facility in the Northwest Regional Utility Service Area.

Construction on this $2.5 million project has begun with testing of the process scheduled for August 2023.

Direct Potable Reuse Pilot Facility

The Cherry Hill Direct Potable Reuse Project is a feasibility pilot project, therefore water treated and tested will not be introduced into the drinking water supply at this time.

Reclaimed water will be transferred from Polk County’s Northwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility to the Cherry Hill Water Production Facility, where the DPR site is being constructed separately from the water production facility.

At the DPR facility, the pilot project will further treat the reclaimed water through a series of processes, utilizing a multi-barrier treatment approach that includes technologies such as enhanced coagulation, advanced oxidation, ultrafiltration, granular activated carbon, and UV disinfection that can run at a flow rate of 10-20 gallons per minute. This process scrubs the reclaimed water to remove any remaining trace chemicals, pharmaceutical residue, hormones, bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

For more information on DPR, visit:

Project Update August 2023

All water treatment equipment has been installed. Demonstration testing is scheduled to begin August 2023 and continue for 12 months.