Environment News Service (ENS)
Environment News Service (ENS)

Miami-Dade County to Rely on Recycled Water

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

The South Florida Water Management District today renewed the largest public water supply permit in the state - the water use permit for Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department.

The 20 year permit is structured to meet the water needs of Miami-Dade's growing population, which is projected to reach 2.7 million residents by 2027.

The permit allows Miami-Dade to pump up to 60 million more gallons a day by 2027, and much of that increase will come from reliance on alternative water supply sources.

'Miami-Dade has successfully stepped up their water resource and infrastructure planning to meet population growth, at the same time providing protection to the nearby Everglades,' said Eric Buermann, who chairs the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. 'Alternative water supply is indeed the key to South Florida’s future.'

Use of brackish water from the Floridian Aquifer, recycled water for irrigation of green spaces, and highly treated recycled water for groundwater recharge are features of the district's new alternative water supply plan.

In addition, recycled water will be used for rehydration of Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

All increased demands that might impact Everglades water supplies will now be met through specified recharge projects, such as the South Miami Heights and West Central Miami groundwater recharge.

Over the life of the permit, the plan calls for approximately 170 million gallons per day of projects that use recycled water.

This permit aligns with changes implemented earlier this year by the District's Governing Board.

In April, the board established the Regional Water Availability Rule, preventing water users from tapping the famed River of Grass for new or additional supplies of water.

The first-of-its-kind requirement was designed to ensure that communities manage growth responsibly while guaranteeing water for protection and restoration of the Everglades, said Buermann.

The renewed permit means plenty of water will be available for Miami-Dade residents, but the rates are bound to rise. The average homeowner now pays about $30 every quarter for water, a figure that county officials say could double or even triple by the time the permit expires in 20 years.

In response to a wet season that did little to ease the ongoing water shortage, South Florida Water Management District staff today recommended that the board move to increase water restrictions at their next monthly meeting on December 13.

Staff recommendations included limiting lawn irrigation to one day a week and setting lower water use goals for agriculture, golf courses and nurseries.

Varying degrees of water restrictions have been in place throughout South Florida since March. The district estimates that 11.7 billion gallons of drinking water have been saved from March 22, when restrictions first went into effect, through June 30.

'Every South Florida resident can help stretch our water resources by adhering to restrictions and also voluntarily stepping up their in-home water conservation practices,' said Carol Wehle, the district's executive director. 'It is highly probable that more stringent water restrictions may be necessary before the end of this dry season.'

The district is re-adjusting water restrictions to reflect ongoing conditions that are expected to persist until the rainy season returns in May 2008.

In terms of rainfall, the two-year period from November 2005 to October 2007 ranks as the driest since recordkeeping began in 1932. The district received an average of only 85.34 inches of rain during this period, or 82 percent of the historical average.

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