Efforts to preserve fresh groundwater throughout Central Florida are alive and well in Winter Garden. Nearly 350 residences in Winter Garden and Ocoee have recently gained access to reclaimed water.

The projects were designed to build infrastructure able to use wastewater to conserve fresh, potable water. The St. John’s River Water Management District’s cost-share program was behind the funding for improved irrigation.

In Winter Garden, 221 households in Stoneybrook West were retrofitted with potable water infrastructure, including reclaimed water pipes. The project totaled $1.2 million, with half being paid by the city and half coming from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the SJRWMD.

The other phase of the project in Ocoee including the installation of 128 reclaimed water lines in Windermere Groves. SJRWMD picked up 33% of the bill.

Construction on both efforts is almost totally complete, with only a few meters needing to be installed. The improvements are not only cheaper for residents, but the water also has more nutrients.

The city of Ocoee’s website states that the wastewater from three to five households can provide for one home’s irrigation needs. SJRWMD’s chief of the Bureau of Project Management, Dale Jenkins, says 50 percent of a homes’ water can be reclaimed for irrigation.

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Shirley Vargas

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