What is the difference between regular tap water and recycled/reclaimed water for landscape irrigation?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The big concern that many homebuyers have about purchasing a home that has a reclaimed wastewater irrigation system is the health risk.  But the possibility of any pathogens lingering in recycled water in Florida is eliminated by the disinfection requirements set by Chapter 62-610 of the Florida Administrative Code. While it not drinkable, the water is safe.

     Reclaimed water does have salts and nutrients that are not in drinking water, though, and the nutrients can be a good thing. The City of Saint Petersburg, for example, has used recycled wastewater for irrigation of golf courses and residential yards since the 1970s, and estimates that homeowners get about 50% of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium necessary for their lawn and plantings from the water. Cutting the fertilizer bill in half is an unexpected, but pleasant, side effect of tapping into their reclaimed water system.

   The accumulation of salts in the soil can be a problem for grasses and plants with a low salt tolerance, but is a lesser issue in Florida due to regular, soaking rainfall that leaches any salts away. 

    In some areas, like where we live in The Villages, the reclaimed irrigation water is a combination of stormwater runoff collected in water retention areas, reclaimed wastewater, and ground water, with the proportions of the mix adjusted according to availability at different times of the year. The University of Florida IFAS Extension Service recommends contacting your local utility to get a report on the nutrient and salt content of your reclaimed water for a better understanding of what’s in it.

     The covers for recycled water meter boxes are a different color than regular (potable) meters. See our blog post Why is the cover plate of some water meter boxes in the ground painted purple? for more.

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING:

How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?

Why is the vacuum breaker at my hose faucet leaking, gushing water, or making funny sounds?

Why is the cover plate of some water meter boxes in the ground painted purple?

Why is it a problem when a trap under a sink is installed backwards? 

What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?

What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?

Why is there sand in the bottom of my toilet tank?  

What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 

Are drop-in toilet bowl cleaner tablets safe?

What can I add to my septic tank to help it work better? 

Why do septic tank contractors want you to get rid of your kitchen disposal?

Why is there mold inside my toilet tank?  

What are the pros and cons of a wall-mounted toilet?

Does a refrigerator water supply line require a shutoff valve behind it?

Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home? 

Is a hot water faucet required at a washing machine?

What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?

Can PEX pipe be installed outside?  

What is the difference between water pipe and sewage (waste) pipe? 

How can I tell if a house is connected to a septic tank system or sewer?

Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water? 

What do the ABS, PVC, CPVC, PB, and PEX plumbing pipe names mean?

Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems? 

How can I locate my septic tank?

Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left? 

Can you live in a house while the plumbing is being replaced?

What is the loose wire sticking out of the ground under the gas meter for? 

Why is sunlight exposure bad for PVC pipe?

Why is the European-style bottle trap not approved by the plumbing codes in the U.S.? 

Why can't PVC be used for water pipe inside a house?

What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house? 

What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater? 

What is that pipe sticking out of the ground in the yard? 

What is the little tank on top of the water heater for? 

How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

What causes low water pressure in a house?

How often should I pump out the septic tank?

Should I call a plumber or septic tank contractor when my septic tank backs up into the house? 

How do I get rid of the sewer gas smell in my house?  

What are the pipes on my roof? 

Should I wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket? 

My water bill went way up last month. How do I look for a leak?

Why are shower water valves all single-handle nowadays? 

Why does the water have a rotten-egg smell in some empty houses? 

What is an "S-Trap" under my sink? Why is it a problem? 

What is a P-trap?

Where is the septic tank? Are you going to inspect it? 

What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem?

Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable? 

• Does a home inspector check the plumbing under the floor slab?

• Is it alright to disconnect the washing machine drain from the septic tank and divert it to the ground in the yard?

    Visit our PLUMBING page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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