BOCA RATON, FL – October 28, 2019 – The City of Boca Raton’s Utility Services Department was recently honored with a top award at the 2019 Executive Management Conference by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA). The department was recognized as one of the 15 AMWA Sustainable Water Utility Management Award winners. The City’s Utility Department also won a sustainability award from AMWA in 2014.
The Sustainable Water Utility Management Award recognizes water utilities that have made a commitment to management that achieves a balance of innovative and successful efforts in areas of economic, social and environmental endeavors. The Boca Raton Utility Services Department was recognized for its reclaimed water system as a sustainable resource that reduces use of the ocean outfall, recharges the aquifer, prevents saltwater intrusion and provides a cost-effective water source for irrigation.
In the early 90’s the City’s Utility Department established the In-City Reclamation Irrigation System (IRIS) project in which the system provides reclaimed water for irrigation to several area parks, commercial green spaces such as golf courses, residential lawns and landscaping. The system uses highly treated, filtered and disinfected recycled wastewater as a viable alternative to drinking water. In the past, the wastewater had been essentially “thrown away” by discharging it into the ocean. Studies showed that the typical Boca Raton customer poured as much as 70% of their drinking water each month onto lawns and landscaping. By using IRIS water instead of drinking water to irrigate, customers have already been able to make a notable impact. Since 1996, City customers have saved over ten billion gallons of drinking water.
The IRIS system became a way to not only conserve a valuable resource but also reduced the cost to water customers using the program. Among the city’s 1,600 reclaimed water customers, golf courses such as Woodfield Country Club, Broken Sound Club, Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club and the Boca Raton Resort & Club use the wastewater which is less than half the cost of potable drinking water. Neighborhoods such as Royal Palm also use reclaimed water for irrigation at a discounted rate as well.
Over the past 10 years, public outreach and increased reclaimed water use led to a decrease in the per capita use of nearly 20 percent. The department has a goal of reducing the use rate an additional five percent by 2025 through public outreach, particularly on landscape irrigation. It currently has 31 capital improvement projects for maintaining a high level of service and ensuring continued safe and sustainable infrastructure.
For more information on Project IRIS or the Utility Services Department, please visit the City’s website.
Anne Marie Van Casteren
Public Relations Specialist