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Public Notification Requirements for Public Access Reuse Systems

 

Reclaimed water meeting the requirements of Part III of Chapter 62-610, F.A.C., can be safely used for irrigation of residential lawns, golf courses, schools, parks, athletic fields, edible crops, and other landscape areas. Other uses of reclaimed water meeting Part III requirements include dust control at construction sites, car washing, commercial laundries, aesthetic uses (i.e., decorative ponds, fountains, and water features), toilet flushing, and fire protection.

The three key components to a Part III reuse system are:

  • Production of a high quality reclaimed water at the domestic wastewater treatment facility,
  • Cross-connection control, and
  • Ensuring that reuse customers and the public are informed about the proper use of reclaimed water.

The focus of this article is public notification. Public notification is important because the public has a right to know and to make informed decisions. Informed users make better decisions and will use reclaimed water appropriately, and informed users are less likely to create cross-connections between drinking water and reuse lines.

It is the permittee’s responsibility to ensure that:

  • Reclaimed water delivered to users is of acceptable quality for the intended use at the point of delivery;
  • Reclaimed water is used in a manner consistent with Chapter 62-610, F.A.C., and the permit, such that public health and environmental quality are protected;
  • Users of reclaimed water are informed about the origin, nature, and characteristics of reclaimed water; and limitations on the use of reclaimed water. [see Rules 62-610.800(12) & 62-610.468(6), F.A.C.]

Code of Good Practices for Water Reuse

DEP and the Florida Water Environment Association’s Water Reuse Committee developed the "Code of Good Practices for Water Reuse" as a guide for reuse utilities. This guide essentially defines quality reuse programs. The need for effective communication and public notification are highlighted in the "Code of Good Practices for Water Reuse".

Sample Flyer

The following sample flyer contains information that the permittee is required to provide to the reuse customers and others within the reclaimed water service area. The sample flyer also contains some optional language/information that the permittee may want to consider including in the flyer.

Reporting to DEP

In 1999, the Annual Reuse Report was revised to include reporting requirements for public notification activities for Part III reuse systems. These facilities must report details of written public notification activities, activities involving news media, advisory signs, and other public notification activities (i.e., presentations, workshops, tours, etc.).

Advisory Signs

Advisory signs designating the nature of the reuse project must be posted in areas where reuse is practiced. Advisory signs may be posted at entrances to residential neighborhoods where reclaimed water is used for landscape irrigation, and at the entrance of golf courses and at the first and tenth tees. The use of purple as a prominent color on advisory signs and written notices related to a reuse project is recommended but not required. Advisory signs must include the text: "Do not drink" in English and Spanish together with the equivalent standard international symbol [sample advisory sign with symbol provided below]. Advisory signs posted adjacent to lakes/ponds or other decorative water features that use reclaimed water must also include the text: "Do not swim" in English and Spanish together with the equivalent standard international symbol [sample advisory sign with symbol provided below]. The English/Spanish and international symbol requirements will be included in new permits, and will be added to the permits of existing facilities upon permit renewal or permit modification.

There are no specific size requirements for advisory signs, nor are there any requirements on the number of signs to provide at sites using reclaimed water. However, all signs should be clearly legible, and enough signs should be posted to ensure reasonable notice is provided to the public.

Educating the public about the need for water conservation and reuse, as well as the origin, nature, and proper use of reclaimed water is an important component in protecting public health and environmental quality, and the management of the reuse system are emphasized in the "Code of Good Practices for Water Reuse" in Florida.

The following link provides examples of advisory signs meeting the requirements of Rule 62-610.468, F.A.C.

Recommended Communication with Regulatory Agencies

As noted in the "Code of Good Practices for Water Reuse", effective communication and establishment of partnerships with the regulatory agencies are key elements in reuse system management. This is particularly true for the Part III public access reuse system. Multiple agencies (local and state) may have interest and involvement in the implementation and review of cross-connection control activities. Effective communication is needed to ensure that all parties are aware of what’s happening within the reuse system.

The permittee is required to obtain written permission from the DEP before the initial part of the reuse system is placed in operation. However, formal notification to DEP or other agencies is not required as subsequent portions of the reuse system are constructed.

Given the importance of cross-connection control issues and emphasis placed on establishing partnerships and effective communication in the "Code of Good Practices for Water Reuse", it is recommended (but not required) that the utility notify the DEP district office, the county health department, and other parties involved in the implementation of the cross-connection control program as additional portions of the reuse system are constructed.

Last updated: September 21, 2011

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