The Northwest Reclaimed Water Reservoir
Communities across Florida are facing water supply challenges on a daily basis due to increasing demand, drought, and contamination of groundwater, and dependence on single sources of supply. Water reclamation and reuse addresses these challenges by resolving water resource issues and creating new, alternative sources of water supplies for landscape irrigation purposes. The City of Apopka is a recognized leader in the use of reclaimed water in Florida.
In 2006, the City developed a concept to address the need to create an alternative source of water to augment the reclaimed water supply and reduce its dependence on groundwater – stormwater reuse. Stormwater reuse entails collecting runoff from impervious areas, such as parking areas, highways, etc., and then using it as a source of irrigation water. The City approached the management of the stormwater as a resource rather than a waste.
In addition to providing a sustainable, alternative source of water for non-potable irrigation purposes, stormwater reuse can also significantly reduce demand on higher quality potable water sources. Water conservation benefits of stormwater reuse include the conservation of potable water supplies because the stormwater provides an alternative water source through the direct substitution in landscape irrigation. Additional benefits of stormwater reuse include the maintenance of the hydrologic balance by redistributing the collected stormwater across an extensive landscape in a controlled manner and using the natural cleansing process within the landscape for improved water treatment. With new water quality regulations coming into effect in 2011, which include TMDLs (total maximum daily loads), this proactive approach will help the City reduce the amount of pollution that could potentially reach the groundwater supply for years to come.
In 2008, the City constructed a 120 million gallon reservoir and pump station at the Northwest Recreation Complex. The reservoir provides 83 million gallons of storage for reclaimed water purposes and an additional 37 million gallons of capacity for recharge of the groundwater supply. The reservoir is unique, in that it is a one of a kind source of reclaimed water for the North Reuse Pump Station. All stormwater collected from the paved impervious areas of the Recreation Complex is collected and stored in the reservoir and reused as reclaimed water for irrigation. The reservoir is equipped with a built-in filtration system to remove particulate matter and turbidity from the collected water. The City can also store surplus reclaimed water from the water reclamation facility during wet weather periods when demand is low for irrigation.
In 2010, the City installed three fountains in the reservoir to serve to improve the appearances for the community to enjoy and provide a source of aeration for the maintenance of the pond. Additionally, the City has stocked the pond with grass carp to maintain vegetation levels in the reservoir. The grass carp are intended to serve as a green method of maintenance and reduce the City's dependence on the use of chemicals that could be harmful to the environment.
Although it is too early to declare this reservoir an unqualified success, the operation of the reservoir to date indicates that the system could reduce polluted runoff and reduce the need for groundwater as a source of augmentation of the reclaimed water supply. The concept and successful operation of this reservoir has been looked at by other utilities in the Central Florida area, as well as the St. Johns Water Management District, as a potential source for reclaimed water. This is another example of how the City of Apopka's proactive approaches to the growth and expansion of its utility systems can benefit others and lead to a green tomorrow.