Florida County Aims for Full Usage of Reclaimed Water

Facility provides purified water for beer brewing competition

In 2016, Hillsborough County Public Utilities initiated the first direct potable reuse pilot project in Florida. In its efforts to utilize 100% of its reclaimed water, the progressive utility created a successful program to effectively suspend surface water discharges.

Scope

Hillsborough County has the largest retail reclaimed water program in the nation, with more than 17,000 customers and agreements in place to serve another 5,000, for a total of 22,000 accounts. In 2009, the county produced about 34 mgd on average, with more than 22 million gal being distributed to customers, while the rest was discharged into surface waters. The average annual use of reclaimed water was around 60%, a byproduct of Florida’s weather patterns. There were weeks every year when the utility was utilizing 100% of its reclaimed water and much less during the dry months and rainy season. The utility’s long-term goal was to achieve 100% beneficial use of its reclaimed water 365 days a year.

In the early 1980s, the utility converted its operations to tertiary treatment. By 2009, the county’s Falkenburg Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, just east of the city of Tampa, underwent a major $31-million expansion, consisting of conversion of the existing chlorine contact chamber to a state-of-the-art ultraviolet disinfection (UV); a new headworks structure; the replacement of eight existing aerators with new higher-capacity units, including variable frequency drives; the construction of a 100-ft clarifier; and the construction of two new 9-million-gal reject water storage tanks, including a reject pump station. Three emergency generators were also added, with upgrades to the existing reclaimed water and plant service water pump station. Finally, installation of modern SCADA with security camera, associated site work and electrical controls was completed.

The team toasts to a successful project with reclaimed potable water.

Solution

In July 2016, General Electric’s (GE) ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis units and Xylem’s Wedeco MiPro portable trailer-based pilot plant was used for a UV/peroxide advanced oxidation process (AOP) to produce potable reclaimed water at the Falkenburg Water Reclamation Facility (WRF). Tetra Tech – a provider of consulting, engineering and technical services – collaborated with the WateReuse Assn., Xylem and GE to design, build and operate the direct potable reuse pilot purification process to treat reclaimed effluent wastewater to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards.

At the WRF, Tetra Tech’s design for the pilot system put water through an additional, stringent purification process, following full advanced treatment. Tertiary treatment with ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and Xylem’s Wedeco MiPro AOP with UV and peroxide follow biological nutrient removal and UV disinfection. The treated water was tested for primary and secondary drinking water standards, as well as non-regulated microconstituents, pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Water quality monitoring revealed the water from the pilot purification process met all drinking water standards for maximum contaminant levels set by the EPA and adopted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Water sample collection and testing was key to a successful project. 

Results

The pilot project validated direct potable reuse, which is now a key initiative for many central Florida utilities due to the implementation of the Central Florida Water Initiative, which requires the additional utilization of reuse water resources. Historically, any excess water not used by reuse customers was discharged to surface water.

The WRF is staffed around the clock, seven days per week by personnel certified in wastewater treatment. Operational staff is responsible for collecting and analyzing random samples throughout the system to ensure compliance with permit conditions, as well as preparing and submitting all required reports to the regulatory agencies.

In 2016, the WaterReuse Assn. had an idea: Start the conversation about potable reuse with beer. Working with Special Hoperations, a beer brewing organization located in Tampa, it planned to provide potable reclaimed water for the purpose of craft beer brewing in the New Water Brew Competition. Potable reclaimed water produced by the pilot at the Faulkenburg WRF – treated to the highest standards – was provided to around 100 registered home brewers, each of who received around 10 gal of purified water for brewing.

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The beers were sampled at the 2016 Annual WaterReuse Symposium in Tampa, where judges awarded cash prizes and medals for first, second and third places in four sub-categories of beer. The beer samples were also showcased at the October 2016 WEFTEC conference in New Orleans and will be taken on the road in 2017 with panel discussions, workshops and beer tastings at water events throughout the U.S.

All in all, the beers brewed with potable reclaimed water received high praise and kudos from the judges, participants and consumers, who were all glad that this water was recycled for the highest purpose – brewing beer.

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