County officials and the Southwest Water Management District announced a deal Thursday to hook up about 1,325 Central Pasco residents to a $7.4-million reclaimed water system expansion. The plan is part of a $50-million project to cut by a third the strain on the county's potable water resources.
The new customers, in Land O'Lakes and Wesley Chapel developments including Connerton and Meadow Pointe, can save money and water their lawns twice a week, instead of the once-a-week restriction imposed on potable water irrigation. Irrigation is by far the most common use for reclaimed water, county officials say.
The four-year project in Pasco involves building a 5-million gallon water storage tank connected to the county's existing Shady Hills wastewater treatment plant, adding a pump station and about 22,800 feet of water transmission lines.
"It gives us ability to take water from Shady Hills and move it across the county," Kennedy said.
Part of Swiftmud's two-decade push for water conservation, the deal saves nearly 400,000 gallons of potable water a day in Pasco. The district is trying to reclaim 75 percent of wastewater by 2025. Today, it only reclaims 45 percent of wastewater.
For some consumers, the savings from reclaiming water may not be significant: by a back-of-the-envelope calculation, the county's assistant administrator for utilities, Bruce Kennedy, estimated a household could currently save about $3 to $4 a month if it switches to reclaimed water for irrigation.
But over the longer term, he said, the bigger savings for the county lie in cutting the demand for more expensive potable water, a far scarcer resource. Reclaimed water comes from treated wastewater discharge that would otherwise have to be dumped.
As the county explores moving away from a flat $14.82 monthly fee to meter readings for reclaimed water usage, reclaimed water would become even cheaper for those who learn to ration its use, he said. This would potentially add another few dollars of savings a month for customers.
Pasco currently has only enough infrastructure to deliver reclaimed water to 10,000 customers. The $50-million project will triple the customer base over 20 years, said Bruce Kennedy, the county's assistant administrator for utilities.
Pasco and Swiftmud will split the tab for the latest project, and $592,000 will come from a state water protection trust fund. About $1.85-million of the project remains unfunded, and Swiftmud will ask for the money in the coming fiscal year. On Pasco's side, user fees pay for the project.
Design has just started on the project. Construction is expected to start in May 2009 and will be done by April 2012, Swiftmud said.
Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813)909-4613.