POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Polk County Utilities provides drinking water to nearly 70,000 residents and that number will only increase with it being one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.
“We’re not running out of water, we're running out of cheap water,” said Tamara Richardson, Director of Polk County Utilities.
To solve that problem, Polk Utilities is looking at alternatives to providing residents with sustainable, safe and affordable drinking water.
The company is teaming up with the Southwest Florida Water Management District for a pilot project to see if they can turn the county’s wastewater into clean drinking water.
“Reclaimed water from our plant and treating it further to make sure it meets primary and secondary drinking water standards. To remove any organics that occur naturally in groundwater and also to address pharmaceuticals,” said Richardson.
A treatment plant is under construction in Lakeland with the goal of processing 1.5 million gallons of wastewater from bathrooms and kitchens daily.
While drinking water derived from sewage may gross some people out.
“We call that the yuck factor yes,” Richardson said.
Richardson tells ABC Action News the concept is already happening in other states.
“Part of our demonstration study is a public education component, and the facility is set up so people can come and see it,” she added.
The pilot project will begin in the spring and if results are positive, in 8 to 10 years residents will be drinking recycled wastewater.