An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Altamonte Springs takes steps to make wastewater drinkable

The view from the top of Altamonte Springs’ wastewater plant is of brown water gushing into open tanks.

On the ground and a short walk away, city manager Frank Martz stood during a recent morning in a warehouse of laboratory-like gear. From a black hose, he filled a tall glass with water purified from that torrent of incoming sewage.

He drank it all in unbroken slugs.

Martz is energetically optimistic that his moment of refreshment previewed the future of potable water.

“It’s cleaner than drinking water,” Martz said of the output from a home-grown treatment system more evolutionary than any other in Central Florida and among the most advanced in the world, according to an international competition this year.

The concept of recycling sewage into potable water has been nudged along for decades. Yet today, only one U.S. city does it: Big Spring, Texas, which was motivated by severe drought.

California and Arizona are among other states actively considering the option.

In Florida, converting wastewater into drinking water, while perhaps years away, is now getting a hard look by a group of utility operators, academics, state officials and others.

The Potable Reuse Commission is probing the economics, legalities, technology and public perception of what has been derided in past years as “toilet-to-tap.”