The Graywater Solution

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has a problem. The growth of the city is eventually going to outstrip its water supply, and signs of the stress on the city’s water infrastructure have been largely ignored by city hall. To address the situation, the city hired an engineering firm to develop a Comprehensive Utility Strategic Master Plan, and the recently-completed plan recommends graywater as a possible long-term solution.

Graywater is water recycled from washing machines, bathroom sinks and showers. It often contains nutrients which are beneficial to plant life, making it an ideal supplemental supply for irrigation. The consultants recommend using graywater because, as more area is developed, more graywater is produced.

Under the plan, developers would be charged for the extra treatment needed to use graywater for anything other than irrigation. It also recommends that the city government offer incentives for developers who cooperate and implement graywater reuse systems.

Who pays for fixing the local water infrastructure is a thorny question. Other possible solutions include rebuilding the city’s pump stations and laying new pipes, which would cost millions of dollars for the city. Another is metering individual apartments, which would put the burden on residents. Most city officials are up for election next year, and choosing either could pose difficulties for them.

Nevertheless, a growth solution is needed. “Gravity flows currently received by pumping station A-7 are at the station’s maximum capacity levels,” the consultants warned. “Any future growth will exceed the existing station’s capacity.” To maintain Fort Lauderdale’s lush look, graywater may be the only feasible solution.