Purple Reigns in Water Conservation Potential
Florida is a state flanked by a gulf and an ocean, dotted with hundreds of lakes and springs and crossed by thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and sprinkled with lots of puddles during the rainy season. Water is everywhere. Still, we are unsure how much water we have to drink or how long our supply will last. A waste not, want not approach helps conserve our water sources.
One easy way to keep our water stocked is to reclaim it. Water that we usually waste—domestic wastewater—can be filtered, disinfected and used again.
Some places in Florida have been using reclaimed water for years and the purple pipe–in the United States, reclaimed water is distributed in purple pipes—has distributed many a gallon to Florida landscapes and lawns.
The St. Petersburg Master Urban Reuse System set a “waste not, want not” example with one of the first large urban reuse systems. St. Pete has had numerous visitors from other countries, including most recently South Korea, looking for similar water management solutions. The St. Pete system, in operation since 1977, supplies highly treated reclaimed water for irrigation to more than 10,200 residential lawns, 64 schools, 101 parks, and six golf courses.
Disney sets another example of the “waste not, want not” philosophy. Reedy Creek Improvement District provides the Walt Disney World Resort Complex with reclaimed water which is used to irrigate four golf courses, landscaped areas at eight hotels, highway medians, an athletic complex and a water park. Reclaimed water is also used to irrigate a 110-acre tree farm which produces horticultural materials used throughout the complex. Disney also puts reclaimed water to work as cooling tower make-up water, for washing vehicles, cleaning streets and sidewalks in the Disney parks.
Purple fire hydrants provide access to reclaimed water for fire suppression and protection. Reclaimed water can also be used to recharge groundwater. In 2008, Florida used 667 million gallons per day of reclaimed water, saving more than 125 billion gallons of drinkable water while adding more than 79 billion gallons back to available water supplies.
Though Florida leads the nation in water reuse, the potential for reclaiming water goes untapped in many areas. To find out if reclaimed water is available in your neighborhood, look for purple pipes or purple fire hydrants. Contact your local wastewater management or reuse utility company. Contact information can usually be found on your utility bill. If reclaimed water is available, follow the guidelines provided by your local reuse utility.
If reclaimed water is not available in your neighborhood, contact your local elected officials, city planners, or water management district to learn about plans for water reuse.
Information provided by
Shanin Speas Frost
Water Reuse/Wastewater Wetlands Coordinator
Florida Department of Environmental Protection