Water not only supports the lives of people and wildlife, it is a valuable resource that could provide greater opportunity for economic development and recreation. Despite the large areas of freshwater in Central Florida, water availability and lake water quality continue to be a concern as the region experiences severe and prolonged periods of drought as well as episodes of intense rainfall and floods. Orlando is fortunate to have a clean, accessible source of water from the Floridian Aquifer. However, our current demand for water, coupled with a rapidly growing population, exceeds the rate at which water underground can be naturally replenished.
Orlando needs to continue water conservation investments and begin searching for new supplies of drinking water so that it will be available to support future economic growth in the City and the region. To achieve this, we use the following goals and targets to guide the preservation of our water resources:
|Metrics||2010 (baseline)||2018 (targets)||2040 (goals)|
|Water used per capita per day||166 gallons||3%||20%|
|Meeting good quality water standards (Tropic State Index)||Less than 41%||85%||100%|
Pretreating our industrial waste
The three City of Orlando wastewater plants Iron Bridge, Conserv I, and Conserv II receive a total of approximately 36 million gallons per day of wastewater. Much of this is attained from domestic wastewater, but a large portion is received by industrial wastewater, which requires pretreatment, or the removal, reduction, or alteration of pollutants in industrial wastewater prior to discharge or introduction into a domestic wastewater treatment facility. Examples include manufacturing, commercial businesses, mining, agricultural production and processing, and wastewater from cleanup of petroleum and chemical contaminated sites.
Streets and Stormwater
Keeping our waterways clean
The Streets and Stormwater Office has installed various stormwater structures to reduce debris and nutrients entering waterways, including baffle boxes, inlet baskets, alum treatment, and a bar screen system. Shoreline plantings have also reduced pollutants entering waterways. Additionally, as part of a vigorous education and outreach plan to decrease pollution, all City field employees and contractors are required to take a Stormwater Pollution Prevention class pertinent to their area of work.
In our Parks, we’re continually increasing the amount of mulched areas (decreasing grassed/irrigated areas) as trees grow. And, we’ve switched to using pine needles instead of pine bark as mulch, since needles are more sustainable as the pine trees drop their needles naturally, each year.
Making strides with our proposed Building Energy and Water Efficiency Strategy (BEWES)
A proposed policy focused on helping building owners and managers understand their building’s energy performance through benchmarking and identification of the technical and financial resources available to implement energy and water efficiency measures. If approved, this policy would cut energy waste, save money for tenants and building owners, create jobs, reduce harmful pollution, and create a greener future for generations to come.
Orlando Wetlands Park
Utilizing the Orlando Wetlands Park for innovative, habitat-friendly water treatment
The Orlando Wetlands park is a 1,220 acre man-made wetland treatment system that processes 35 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater daily. The reclaimed water makes a 40-day journey through a variety of habitats and eventually arrives at the two outfall structures for the wetland system, leading into the St Johns River. The outflow is sampled every day and the results are reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District and remains consistently lower than the background levels of phosphorus that are found in the St Johns River. The ecological communities include deep marsh areas, mixed marsh and wet prairie and hardwood – cypress swamps. The site includes 2.3 million aquatic plants and over 30 species of wildlife that are listed on the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Threatened and Endangered Wildlife list, many of which can be seen along the roads and hiking trails.
Providing reclaimed water for urban irrigation
Reclaimed water is domestic wastewater which has been treated and disinfected to a high degree such that it can be safely used to irrigate golf courses, parks and residential lawns. The use of reclaimed water for irrigation represents an environmentally acceptable method for managing the effluent from the City’s Water Reclamation Facilities. In addition, reclaimed water represents a valuable water resource that helps satisfy the needs of central Florida for water.
Recycle your grease
Pouring oil and grease down the drain is the leading cause of sewer backups in homes. The City of Orlando has provided a variety of locations that accept used cooking oil and grease. After cooking oil has cooled, pour it into a shatterproof container and bring it to one of the locations listed on the program page.
Bag Your Leaves and Yard Debris
Did you know that yard waste pollutes our lakes?! When leaves, grass clippings, and other debris from your yard end up in City streets, sidewalks, and storm drains, it eventually will make its way to our lakes. The addition of these materials to the stormwater system and our lakes is detrimental to water quality.
NEVER allow leaves and grass clippings from your yard to end up in City streets, sidewalks, or storm drains.
Street sweeping services are designed for natural leaf fall on public streets only….never for residential yard waste!
Streets, sidewalks and driveways must be kept clear of all yard waste to prevent this debris from entering a curb inlet or storm drain.
Leaves and Grass Clippings:
- Degrade water quality
- Reduce habitat for fish and wildlife
- Decrease recreational opportunities
Go a step beyond Bag It, Don’t Blow It! Compost It, Don’t Blow It!
Leaves and yard debris, along with many other items from your household, can be composted. Turn your waste into rich, useful compost. Receive your free composter by visiting cityoforlando.net/solidwaste/composter. Mulch It, Don’t Blow It! Leaves and yard debris make excellent natural mulch. Because leaves and yard debris contain high quantities of nutrients, they act as a natural fertilizer.
Yard Waste questions? Please refer to cityoforlando.net/solidwaste
Only Rain Down the Drain
Volunteer to mark storm drains
Did you know that more than 32 billion gallons of stormwater runoff flow to the more than 100 lakes in the City of Orlando each year? Stormwater accounts for 95% of a lake’s volume. Every year people pour hazardous chemicals, paints, pesticides, antifreeze and used motor oil down storm drains on streets and in parking lots. Most people don’t realize that those drains carry stormwater runoff untreated into local lakes. Stormwater runoff carrying pollutants and illegally dumped wastes can damage water quality and affect fish, wildlife, and recreational opportunities. You can help by volunteering an hour or two to mark your storm drains with “No Dumping” signs. Storm drain marking is a visual reminder that storm drains are for stormwater only. Marking involves people in the community, educates residents, and increases awareness about the importance of our local water resources and the environment. It’s also a great opportunity to work with friends and neighbors or earn community service hours. All materials and training are provided for free to volunteers by the City of Orlando. Learn more about this opportunity.
*Denotes a key action that the City of Orlando is taking to become a hub for green companies and support green jobs that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.