Reaching for Reuse
The city of Altamonte Springs, Fla.,’s citywide public-access water reuse system, known as Project APRICOT—an acronym for “Prototype Realistically Innovative Community of Today”—is a featured facility tour at WEFTEC.09. WWD Associate Editor Rebecca Wilhelm spoke to Altamonte Springs’ Larry Dolamore to learn more about the city’s reuse system.
Rebecca Wilhelm: How did Project APRICOT begin?
Larry Dolamore: The city of Altamonte Springs had experienced tremendous growth during the 1970s and early ’80s that led to the need to expand the capacity of the city’s regional wastewater treatment facility. The facility discharged to surface water, and the city and local environmental group desired to not only improve the quality of the discharged water, but to reduce the volume.
The city developed a plan to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant and worked closely with regulators to plan for high-level wastewater treatment and a reclaimed water distribution system throughout the city that would ultimately reach almost every residence and business.
Wilhelm: Please describe the system’s infrastructure and the treatment processes.
Dolamore: The wastewater treatment facility was upgraded from a 7.5-million-gal-per-day (mgd) capacity to a 12.5-mgd capacity between 1986 and 1987.
The improvements provided increased biological nitrogen reduction, deep-bed filtration and high-level disinfection. Low head pumps transfer the water to two 3-million-gal storage tanks. Variable-speed high-service pumps move the water to the distribution system. A comprehensive SCADA system monitors and controls the equipment, and it monitors water pressure at numerous points in the distribution system.
Wilhelm: How has the demand for reclaimed water increased over the years?
Dolamore: Reclaimed water was first pumped through the distribution system in 1989. At that time, the distribution system was only partially constructed.
The years 1990 to 1993 saw substantial completion of the distribution system and public acceptance of the water.
In April 1994, we first experienced days when all of the reclaimed water produced was pumped to distribution. Since then, a decommissioned water treatment plant was reactivated to pump groundwater to supplement the reclaimed water system. Additionally, four water bodies are permitted for use to add to the available reuse water.
Wilhelm: Are there plans for upgrades or expansion in the future for Project APRICOT?
Dolamore: The city is studying viable options for a more regional use of reclaimed water through storage of reclaimed water in ponds and piping water to other service areas. The most recent major change to the operation of APRICOT was construction of a distribution system interconnect with a smaller, neighboring utility. This has been beneficial to both entities by providing reduction of surface water discharge and groundwater used for supplemental water by “sharing” of water storage capacity.
Wilhelm: What are the greatest benefits the city has realized from Project APRICOT?
Dolamore: A large reduction in groundwater used for nonpotable functions, primarily irrigation, and reduction in effluent discharged to surface water.
Wilhelm: Do you have any tips or best practices that help achieve the greatest percentage of reuse?
Dolamore: During the early years of Project APRICOT, the city employed an information liaison who provided education to the public about reclaimed water through numerous formats, including neighborhood meetings.
This approach proved beneficial in alleviating customer concerns about treated wastewater effluent being sprayed on their lawns. Today, the public has heightened awareness of reclaimed water compared to 20 years ago, but for areas in which this is new, providing reclaimed water facts to them is important to the program’s success.
Larry Dolamore is division director of water/wastewater/reuse for the city of Altamonte Springs, Fla. Dolamore can be reached at 407.571.8712 or by e-mail at [email protected].