Eustis invests in plan to use reclaimed water for irrigation

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EUSTIS, Fla. —

Eustis city leaders said when possible, they want to avoid the use of drinking water to irrigate grass.

Central Florida lawns aren't green by accident. Most require lots of irrigation. But some water is just too valuable to sprinkle on grass.

"All the money that is spent on processing water to drink, it's kind of a waste to spray your lawn with that," said Eustis resident Don Anderson.

Anderson said that is why he is happy that the city of Eustis will stop the practice in one of its high-end neighborhoods.

Fifty-four million gallons of drinking water per year will no longer be used to irrigate lawns in the 115-home Red Tail golf course community.

"Anytime we can take the opportunity to use reclaimed water over potable water, we need to look at that," said Eustis city engineer Rick Gierok.

The city has borrowed more than $2 million to build a pair of tanks large enough to store 2.5 million gallons of treated sewage water, along with a new system of pumps to send it to the neighborhood. Up until now now, that wastewater was essentially wasted. In 2012, 81 million gallons of it was sprayed onto an empty field, according to the city.

"By not just spraying the reclaimed on the ground and to be able to use it, that's a win-win for everyone," said Gierok.

City leaders said they hope to do the same in more neighborhoods so that more reclaimed water is used to green them up.

Anderson said he has mixed feelings about any money the city spends on irrigation.

"To me it's a waste of water, regardless of whether its reclaimed or drinking water or whatever," said Anderson.

The new system will be up and running in March.