Legislators are considering bills that will allow treated sewage to be used more widely, including as a source of drinking water.
However, it doesn’t look as though drinking water in this part of Florida will come from other sources.
That’s because the treated sewage in DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk and Sumter is already being used for other purposes, primarily irrigation and power plant cooling water.
In other parts of the state, the change will be more dramatic.
In south Florida counties, where sewage is still discharged into the Atlantic Ocean. That practice is supposed to end in 2025.
Elsewhere, inland surface discharges that haven’t already been diverted will have to end and utilities will have to pursue reclaimed water infrastructure.
According to a legislative staff analysis there are approximately 2,000 domestic sewer plants in Florida and 476 already have some kind of system for using what is now referred to as reclaimed water.
The big challenge will be how to afford the conversion costs. Some state funding will be available, but some of the cost will likely have to be incorporated in rate structures just as well-run utilities already set aside funds for repairs and replacement costs.