City of Clearwater, Florida

The City of Clearwater, Florida began to pilot a groundwater replenishment scheme with a feasibility study in 2009, then a pilot facility tested the technology for a year (June 2013 to June 2014). By 2016 Clearwater was the first city in Florida to design a full-scale groundwater replenishment facility, modelling it on a similar pioneering plant that launched in Orange County, California, in 2008.

The idea was to improve groundwater levels in an aquifer while minimizing the impacts of potential withdrawals from City wells. The pilot system used a multi-barrier treatment process that included ultrafiltration (UF), reverse osmosis (RO), and an advanced oxidation process (AOP), along with other techniques, to purify the water.

After 10 years and an investment of $6.2 million, Clearwater had the final design and all permits needed to break ground, still ahead of any other city in the state. However, higher-than-expected building and operation costs have delayed construction indefinitely. It is expected that it will cost nearly $7 million more to finish the project than what was estimated three years ago.

As of 2019 there are no facilities yet in Florida turning wastewater into drinking water for consumers, but about a half dozen cities have completed pilot studies or are undergoing planning. The state doesn’t yet have regulations to guide uniform permitting and construction on injecting treated wastewater into groundwater or surface water to then pull up for drinking or by pumping the treated water directly into a municipal supply without the environmental buffer step first.

There is a detailed explanation here: Once leading the way in Florida, Clearwater’s plan to turn wastewater to drinking water is on hold

Current updates from Clearwater are available here: