Altamonte Springs testing purifying, recycling wastewater for drinking

By Jeff Allen, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 9:04 PM EDT

The City of Altamonte Springs is working on a way to take wastewater and recycle it into purified drinking water, in order to get ahead of any shortages of one of the state's most valued resources.

  • City, state partnered to test process
  • PureALTA takes treated sewer water through additional purification
  • Ultraviolet light used to sterilize water

With Florida’s population quickly growing by the day, one of Florida’s most valuable resources is getting used more and more.

“Every time we turn on the faucet, we’re using that very valuable resource from the aquifer, and there is going to come a day when water is going to become very expensive in Florida and it’s going to become harder to get,” said Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz.

To get ahead of that potential scenario, the City of Altamonte Springs partnered with the state of Florida to test whether they could turn reclaimed water into drinkable water.

Reclaimed water is already treated and used for watering lawns and fountains. Now, through what the city is calling PureALTA, it’s taking the treated sewer water through a few more steps of purification.

The final stage in the purification process involves using ultraviolet light to sterilize the water, similar to how surgical instruments are sterilized.

“It’s been through extensive testing,” said Martz. “I’ve drank the water and our engineers have drank the water.”

Purifying wastewater – even saltwater – is nothing new. But Martz says this is the first time anyone’s done this while keeping the cost of the process relatively low.

Martz went on to say other cities from across Florida – and even across the country – are taking notice.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from governments in California, Texas and other states where there are significant drought conditions going on,” said Martz.

Because the treatment process is a first of its kind, there’s still a year of extensive testing to go before the city can introduce the treated reclaimed water into the drinking water system.

The new water treatment process has already been so successful, however, that the city recently won a national award for being the most innovative water use project of the year.