What is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water is the final product of a multiple-stage advanced wastewater treatment process which produces a product ideal for irrigation. This treatment produces a water product that is not suitable for human or animal consumption. Elements found in reclaimed water include nitrogen and phosphorous elements that work as nutrients to enhance ornamental plant and lawn health. Sprinkling with reclaimed water is not much different from using well or potable (drinking) water. Due to its origin and composition, the use of reclaimed water is restricted by federal, state and local ordinances.
In St. Petersburg, Reclaimed Water Is Not Permitted For:
- Consumption by humans or animals
- Connection to a dwelling for toilet flushing or other internal household use
- Interconnection with another water source
- Sprinkling of edible crops
- Human bodily contact or water recreation
- Non-reclaimed marked/labeled hose bibs, faucets, quick couplers, and hoses.
- Filling of swimming pools, decorative pools, and ponds
- Development of a common reclaimed water service or connection between properties
- Washing equipment such as cars, boats, driveways, structures etc.
St. Petersburg’s Reclaimed Water System at a Glance
Three [CAC1] reclaimed water facilities provide over 37 million gallons of reclaimed water per day to 10,284 active customers through 291 miles of reclaimed water pipelines and 3,909 valves. There are 316 fire hydrants utilizing reclaimed water.[CAC2]
St. Petersburg's Water Reclamation System is not only the first to be built in the United States, it remains one of the largest in the world. The city's innovative system provides an alternative supply, typically for lawn irrigation. As a result, reclaimed water is an integral part of the city's overall water conservation effort. The initial reclaimed water distribution system, constructed in the late 1970s, was limited to serving golf courses, parks, schools, and large commercial areas. Extensive biological research through the late 1970s and early 1980s resulted in approval by Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency for expansion into residential areas. In 1986, a system expansion was completed to provide service to a limited number of residential and commercial sites for irrigation. Continued expansion of the reclaimed water system has significantly contributed to reducing potable (drinking) water demands.
Reclaimed Water is a Resource – Use it Wisely
Using reclaimed water is a smart irrigation alternative which helps alleviate the strain on other water sources. Like other water sources, there is a limited amount of reclaimed water. Efficient use by all customers will help ensure the safe and continued availability of this resource.
Why is reclaimed water a limited supply? In St. Petersburg, the average household discharges 5,000 gallons of wastewater per month to the sewer system. However, it takes the discharge from six wastewater customers to produce enough reclaimed water to supply one residence with irrigation water. As a result, it is not possible at this time to supply all residences in St. Petersburg with reclaimed water.[CAC3] The typical residential lawn can require up to 30,000 gallons of irrigation water per month, especially during the dry spring and winter seasons.
The Water Resources Department encourages all reclaimed water customers to utilize this resource efficiently and effectively. Voluntary restrictions for reclaimed water allow for irrigation no more than 3 times per week. It is inefficient to irrigate during the heat of the day.
When conditions warrant, the Department activates its Dry Weather Protocol for reclaimed water, which requires the filling of tanks during the day and allowing for irrigation in the evening hours. Reclaimed water customers are asked to turn off automatic sprinkler systems if there is not adequate pressure for proper operation. During dry weather or reclaimed water emergencies, this will help in building up the supply so that customers will be able to irrigate.
For information on water restrictions in effect for St. Petersburg, visit Watering Restrictions or call the Water Watch Info Line at 892-5300.
Reclaimed Water Service Availability
Reclaimed water is not available in all areas of the city. The Water Resources Department's reclaimed water office is currently able to consider in-fill requests for reclaimed water service. To take advantage of the program you must already have or install a sprinkler system or you may receive a special reclaimed hose connection for portable sprinklers. Existing sprinkler systems can be connected with little or no modification. Where reclaimed water is not available, service requests will be put on a waiting list for consideration when the system is able to accommodate expansion. To determine if service is available in your area or to obtain reclaimed water, call 727-892-5111 or email WaterDept@stpete.org with your name and address.
Reclaimed Water Rates Visit this page for information on current reclaimed water rates.
Mayor’s Authority to Order Mandatory Restrictions on Reclaimed Water Use
The City of St. Petersburg is in a declared a water caution area by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Water shortage restrictions have been placed on outdoor-only use of water to help to conserve valuable resources. Reclaimed water, as an alternative irrigation water source to potable or well water, is not restricted in the same manner.
However, there may be periods when the reclaimed water system experiences an increase in low-pressure due to demand exceeding supply. Per Section 27-170 of the St. Petersburg City Code, the Mayor has the authority to enact mandatory restrictions on reclaimed water during emergencies and when necessary for the efficient operation of the system. Such restrictions may be warranted during the dry season. If the mayor enacts such an order, notifications will be sent to customers and the media will be notified. The failure to comply with the restrictions established by executive order is a violation of the City Code and may result in a fine.
The restrictions limit the use of reclaimed water for lawn and landscape irrigation to three days per week. It also limits the time of day for irrigation to the hours of 5 to 9 a.m. and/or 7 to 11 p.m.
A copy of St. Petersburg's Reclaimed Water Policies & Procedures is available in the reception area of the administrative office of the Water Resources Department during regular business hours - Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information on reclaimed water service and use, call, email or write to:
Water Resources Department Reclaimed Water Division
1650 Third Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
727-892-5111 / WaterDept@stpete.org
For information on efficient irrigation, contact the Pinellas County Extension Service.
For information on water resources in our area, contact the Southwest Florida Water Management District at 1-800-423-1476 or watermatters.org