Reclaimed Water and Wet Weather

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After extreme weather events or long periods of wet weather the Cocoa reclaimed water system often experiences intermittent pressure fluctuations and low pressures. This is because the Sellers Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) must discharge excess reclaimed water to storage ponds, or in extreme case (tropical storm or hurricane) to the Indian River Lagoon. The rate of discharge to these ponds affects the reclaimed water pressure.

Managing reclaimed water is a balancing act. During dry spells or droughts demand can exceed supply. When demands exceed 100% of the waste water influent Cocoa can meet the demand by utilizing supplemental sources such as storm water or ground water. During wet weather, demand can fall to near zero. Meanwhile the Sellers Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) must still treat approximately two million gallons per day (mgd) of in-coming wasterwater. Cocoa has two 1.5 million gallon ground storage tanks, one 5 million gallon ground storage tank and one 300,000 gallon elevated tank for a total of 8.3 million gallons of stored reclaimed water. Under normal weather conditions these tanks are adequate for serving the needs of the Cocoa Reclaimed Water System.

However, during periods of extreme wet weather (tropical storms, hurricanes, exceptionally wet rainy seasons) when reclaimed water consumption is near zero for days, even weeks, it doesn’t take long for the tanks to become full. Then Cocoa must send the excess reclaimed water elsewhere. During Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 there were eight mgd coming in. During Hurricane Matthew the plant experienced flows as high as six mgd. During both events Cocoa was forced to discharge some treated wastewater to the Indian River Lagoon. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) permits discharges under such circumstances when surplus water exceeds demand. Depending on how much rain the storm drops and how much damage it causes, it can take days or even weeks before flow and pressure gets back to normal.

Cocoa uses a 55-acre parcel known as Bracco Reservoir that consists of five excavated ponds for stormwater treatment and as a supplemental source of water for their reclaimed water system. The south pond, known as the reclaimed water storage pond, helps to accommodate fluctuations in reclaimed water demand. When demand exceeds supply, water is pumped from the pond to the WRF. When incoming flow exceeds reclaimed water demand and storage tank capacity, during wet weather for example, the WRF pumps the excess into the reclaimed water storage pond. The pond holds up to 10 million gallons of water.

Cocoa now has access to a large, deep pond north of Dixon Blvd. called North Fiske Pond. Routing excess reclaimed water to North Fiske Pond allows the Jerry Sellers WRF to reduce wet weather discharges to the lagoon. Cocoa can send reclaimed water to the pond via an eight-inch pipe with an estimated flow capacity of 1.25 mgd. However, sending water to this pond is not without its consequences. The high flow through the eight-inch pipe into North Fiske Pond causes reduced pressure in the neighborhood closest to the pond (Cocoa Hills subdivision).

After extreme weather events or long periods of wet weather, please be patient with regards to reclaimed water pressure. It can take days, or even weeks to properly deal with all the excess reclaimed water.