The reclaimed water system was started by Okaloosa County in 1992 as a means to dispose of treated wastewater from the Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, located on Highway 85 North, so that they could add treatment capacity to accommodate the wastewater from additional development in the Bluewater area.  The Rocky Bayou Country Club was the sole customer at that time.  In 1996 (approx.), Okaloosa County made reclaimed water available to Heritage Gardens Cemetery.  In 2000, Okaloosa County made reclaimed water available to the Swift Creek Subdivision and the Rocky Bayou Christian School.  In 2002, the City of Niceville became partners with Okaloosa County in the reclaimed water system.  Between 2002 and 2012 the City’s Twin Oaks Recreational Complex, Swift Creek Plantation Subdivision, the Preserve at Swift Creek and the City Hall Complex including the softball complex were added to the reclaimed water system.  In 2012, the City of Niceville purchased the County’s portion of the system and became the sole owner of the reclaimed water system.  The cost of the reclaimed water production, storage and pumping system was approximately $5.7 million.

The reclaimed water provided to users is produced at the Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.  This facility receives and treats all wastewater generated in the City of Niceville and surrounding areas, the City of Valparaiso and the Okaloosa County service area east and south of Rocky Bayou and north of Choctawhatchee Bay.  The wastewater received is treated to two different levels – basic treatment for water that goes to the sprayfield located on Highway 285 and high-level treatment for the water that goes into the reclaimed water system.  The reclaimed water production facility takes the wastewater treated to the basic treatment level and provides additional treatment in the form of filtration and additional disinfection.  This reclaimed water production facility has the capacity to produce 3,000,000 gallons per day of reclaimed water.  As much as possible of the wastewater which has received basic treatment is treated to the higher level to be directed into the reclaimed water system.  Only the treated wastewater which is not converted to reclaimed water is pumped to the sprayfield for land application.

All reclaimed water produced is pumped to a holding basin on Eglin AFB golf course for storage.  This holding basin has a capacity of 18,000,000 gallons.  An automated high-service pumping system pumps the reclaimed water out of the holding basin and into the reclaimed water distribution system.  This pumping system can pump up to 6,200 gallons per minute (approx. 9,000,000 gallons per day) and maintain a pressure of up to 60 psi at the pump discharge.  At a discharge pressure of 60 psi at the pump, the reclaimed water system has a higher static water pressure than the City’s potable water system.

Thus the reclaimed water production, storage and pumping system has adequate capacity to provide reclaimed water to all present customers under normally expected conditions, i.e., non-drought conditions.

HOWEVER, the treatment facility is currently undergoing a process upgrade.  This upgrade was required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and, when completed, will result in a higher level of treatment for all the wastewater.  The treatment facility consists of three parallel sequences of treatment tanks.  In order to upgrade the facility, one sequence of treatment tanks at a time had to be taken out of service so that construction in that sequence could be performed to modify them to the new treatment process.  One such sequence of tanks is currently out of service so two of the parallel sequences of tanks must now treat all the flow and they have more flow passing through them than they are designed to treat, especially following the recent heavy rains which caused the flow to increase significantly.  As a result, the treated wastewater now has more solids in it than normal and thus often does not meet the basic treatment level.  Since this treated wastewater does not meet the basic treatment level, it cannot be used to produce reclaimed water, as mandated by FDEP regulations.  These FDEP regulations are intended to protect the health of the public who uses the reclaimed water.  This parallel sequence of tanks currently out of service is the last of the three to undergo renovation.  The two others have already been renovated.  It is anticipated that this last sequence of tanks will be ready to return to service by the middle of June.  When these tanks are placed back into service, the reclaimed water production system should return to normal production and be able to meet normal customer needs.

In the interim, until the reclaimed water production returns to normal, there are several things which the customers can do to minimize the impact of the reduced availability of reclaimed water.  First, each user should check the rain sensor on their automatic irrigation system controls to make sure it is working properly so that watering does not occur when it is raining.  The reclaimed water flow meter showed that there was a significant amount of use during the recent rain events.  This reclaimed water is wasted.  Second, if the users would voluntarily institute an odd-even watering schedule, the demand on the system would be reduced significantly resulting in increased system pressure.  In the odd-even watering schedule, those users with odd numbered street addresses would irrigate on dates with odd numbers and those users with even numbered street addresses would irrigate on dates with even numbers.  No one should water on Wednesday so that all reclaimed water produced on that day could be pumped to the holding basin and help refill it.  The City of Niceville would be glad to help any user re-program their irrigation system controls to conform to the odd-even watering schedule.

Improvements to the reclaimed water distribution system are planned as well.  After taking over the system, the City received several complaints about low pressure in the reclaimed water system in certain areas of Swift Creek Subdivision.  They had a computerized hydraulic model of the reclaimed water system created and used this model to identify one contributor to these low pressures.  It was discovered that the reclaimed water system distribution pipe between College Boulevard and Heritage Gardens Cemetery is undersized.  The City has prepared plans and specifications for installation of a larger pipe to increase capacity of the distribution system in this area where capacity is currently restricted.  This should increase the capacity of the distribution system serving Swift Creek and improve pressure during high-use periods.  The bid opening for construction of this project is scheduled for June 5th.  It is estimated that this improvement project will be completed around mid-September and will cost about $200,000.

Finally, the City wants the existing reclaimed water customers to know that they are not adding new developments to the system while the availability of reclaimed water is restricted.  Although reclaimed water piping is being installed by the developer in the new Stables development just south of Marysa Drive, this development will not be connected to the reclaimed water system in the near future.  And the new Publix facility was not allowed to connect to the reclaimed water system.

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