Will Floridians need reused water to drink in the future? Sen. Ben Albritton wants to make sure a regulatory structure already exists as that reality draws closer.
“Florida needs to start thinking longterm about water,” the Wauchula Republican said. “There’s saltwater intrusion into the aquifer.” Meanwhile, there’s technology in use around the world to purify water.
“We are one of the few places that essentially uses water once.”
He filed a bill (SB 64) that calls for a permit structure around the use of reclaimed water in Florida, requiring plans be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection for eliminating non-beneficial water discharges.
Albritton’s hope is to cut down on unnecessary spray fields that discard excess water resources literally down the drain or into the air.
He filed the bill Jan. 7, his first for the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session. There’s no House companion to date.
While Florida already allows certain uses for reclaimed water, it’s primarily for non-potable uses. That means reused water can be cleaned to the point where it can be used for watering lawns and other limited purposes, but isn’t safe to drink. As technology improves, whether for salt purification or cleaning wastewater, there will be increasing demand for reclaiming water to use for all purposes.
“The No. 1 priority is making sure the end product is safe for human consumption,” he said.
If that can be dome, Albritton said, it will ease pressure on Florida resources at a time when the state’s population grows by 1,000 people a day.
There will be other conversations associated with reclaimed water regulation such as controlling rate hikes and assessments, but Albritton said the first move will be just making sure Florida has a framework to contend with new cleansing utility technology.
“The goal here is to grow the water pie and make water something not a limiting factor to Florida’s growth or to Florida industries and making sure the consumers are safe,” Albritton said.