Florida Partnership to Develop Alternative Water Supply Projects

On March 23, the South Florida Water Management District announced the approval of $3,000,000 to fund four water supply projects in the Florida Keys. To be developed in partnership with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA), the projects comprise two reverse-osmosis desalination plants in Florida City and North Key Largo, and two new reclaimed-water treatment systems on Duck Key and Big Coppitt Key.

As sole provider of potable water for the keys, the FKAA relies principally on the freshwater Biscayne Aquifer for raw water supply. Facing increased demand and limitations on wellfield withdrawals, the FKAA must turn to alternative water supply projects to meet the needs of residents and visitors to the Florida Keys. A reverse-osmosis plant using water from the brackish Floridan Aquifer is under development at the J. Robert Dean Water Treatment Plant in Florida City, with a targeted completion date of 2010. Once finished, the plant will be able to treat up to 6 million gallons per day, significantly reducing demand on the freshwater Biscayne Aquifer, officials said.

The reclaimed projects under development at Duck Key and Big Coppitt Key are designed to take advantage of highly treated effluent from new area advanced wastewater treatment facilities.

"With the great number of water resource projects in our 16-county region, it is critical that the district build cooperative partnerships for carrying out important projects that benefit residents, while protecting our environment," said Michael Collins, South Florida Water Management District governing board member representing the Florida Keys. "Future water supply must be shaped by our ability to balance growing demands for water with restoration goals. It also must be balanced with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our water use."

The funding comes at a critical time as the district adopts phase 1 mandatory water-use restrictions for all of the Lower East Coast, including the Florida Keys. The district and the FKAA are partnering on an extensive water conservation campaign, including radio and television advertisements, public service announcements, media appearances, speaking engagements for community organizations, informational material and more. For additional information, visit http://www.sfwmd.gov/conserve.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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