University of Florida

Reclaimed Water

Like glass, plastic, paper, and other materials, water can also be recycled. Residents can practice “water reuse,” which is the term to describe using reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is municipal wastewater that has been disinfected, treated, and is safe for designated purposes.
Reusing water has a number of benefits including the following:

  • Reusing water helps conserve drinking water by reducing the use of drinking water for non-drinking water purposes such as irrigation.
  • Reclaimed water can be treated to meet the quality requirements of a specific reuse.
  • Recycling water prevents pollution because it reduces wastewater discharge into lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal waters.

Although reclaimed water has been safely used in Florida for more than 40 years, its quality  differs from drinking water. Reclaimed water may be higher in salts, nutrients, and organic constituents than drinking water.

Reclaimed water isn’t treated for drinking, but it can be used for purposes such as landscape irrigation and flushing toilets. The largest amount of reclaimed water in Florida is used to irrigate public places including golf courses, parks, and residential areas. Much of the state’s reclaimed water supply is also used for industrial purposes such as cooling water in power plants.

Florida receives a large amount of rainfall when compared to other states, but droughts and increases in the demand for fresh, clean surface and groundwater have resulted in both periodic and prolonged water shortages. Additionally, a high percentage of drinking quality water is being used for non-drinking purposes. Using reclaimed water can reduce the use of Florida’s drinking water supply.

Adapted and excerpted from:

C. J. Martinez and M. W. Clark, Reclaimed Water and Florida's Water Reuse Program (AE448), UF/IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department (rev. 07/2012).

G. S. Toor and M. Lusk, Reclaimed Water Use in the Landscape: What's in Reclaimed Water and Where Does It Go (SL337), UF/IFAS Soil and Water Sciences Department (rev. 01/2011).

Water Recycling and Reuse: The Environmental Benefits,” EPA (Accessed 01/2014).

Garden hose

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