New Options for reclaimed water use may bring added benefit to Fort Myers residents
Fort Myers (Dec. 2, 2016)— The City of Fort Myers is seeking creative alternatives for use of its excess supply of reclaimed water. Fort Myers City Council discussed several options during a Nov. 28 workshop. At least one option could bring added benefit to city residents, either in the form of expanded access or improved water rates.
Reclaimed water is wastewater that has been treated and disinfected to meet the standards of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and protect public health and environmental quality. It is typically used for irrigation purposes like lawn sprinkler systems.
At the Nov. 28 meeting, City Council gave the go-ahead for the Mayor and City Manager to negotiate the sale of excess reclaimed water to neighboring communities. The incremental revenue produced could then be used to offset future water rate increases for Fort Myers residents or to fund greater accessibility to reclaimed water in the City.
“Our citizens would need to get some benefit out of selling this commodity,” City Manager Saeed Kazemi explained at the City Council workshop. “That’s either by reducing rates or expanding service.”
Currently, reclaimed water is available to a small percentage of Fort Myers residents through bulk service. Bulk service patrons include industrial and agricultural customers with large reclaimed water demands, and community developments that provide service to their residents through a master meter. The City would like to provide bulk reclaimed water service in more areas. Expansion would not only ease the financial burden on residents that currently irrigate with potable water, but also would be more environmentally sustainable.
“Water conservation is a high priority for the City,” says Kazemi. “We want our residents to have access to this reclaimed water for their lawns and gardens.”
Fort Myers’ two Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facilities have the combined capacity to treat 23 million gallons of wastewater per day. When production of reclaimed water exceeds customer demand, the remaining water is treated and disinfected, then released into the Caloosahatchee River.
If the City is unable to agree to terms with neighboring communities, a second option would be to store excess reclaimed water in underground injection wells, where it can be retrieved later for future irrigation needs.