Reclaimed Water

What is Reclaimed Water?

Use of reclaimed water is taking what we once considered to be wastewater, giving it a high degree of treatment, and using the resulting high-quality reclaimed water for a new, beneficial use. Cleaning or removing impurities from wastewater is like washing dishes after a meal. We don't throw away the dishes every time we use them. Extensive treatment and disinfection by the wastewater treatment plant ensure that public health and environmental quality are protected. A multi-stage treatment process eliminates pathogens (solids, organics, and viruses), but the reclaimed water still retains nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients that work as fertilizers to enhance ornamental plant and turf grass growth. This process produces water ideal for lawn sprinkling and other irrigation purposes, but not suitable for human or animal consumption.

Saving Fresh Water

Water studies reveal that in many communities, up to 50 percent of the scarce drinking water that flows through water meters each month is used to maintain landscape and turf grass. This trend can be reversed in Manatee County since much of the demand for irrigation can be met with reclaimed water, thus helping to save precious potable water supplies. In addition to residential irrigation use, many golf courses and farms throughout the country use reclaimed water, saving even more potable water.

M.A.R.S. - Manatee Agricultural Reuse System

The MARS system, which was activated in 2006, is a strategy to reduce aquifer withdrawals and increase the drinking water supply by providing alternative water sources for irrigation. The overuse of groundwater in one of the most stressed aquifer recharge areas in the state of Florida, the Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA), has made finding alternative sources of water critical.

Manatee County operates three water reclamation facilities (WRF). All three of the WRFs depend upon irrigation with reclaimed water to use the treated water. Before MARS, each facility operated independently. If one facility had surplus reclaimed water and another facility had excessive demand, the County had no mechanism to move the surplus to the area of need.

To implement MARS, the County has constructed a pipeline connecting the three WRFs, giving the County the ability to redirect surplus reclaimed water along the pipeline to areas where water is needed. The County has received grant funding of over $25 million from the EPA and SWFWMD for construction of the MARS pumping and transmission facilities. The total construction costs amount to approximately $50 million.

Supporting the water needs of our community while maintaining the health and quantities of our fresh water supply is a balance that can be achieved by valuing our reclaimed water as a sustaining alternative water resource that can serve water demands for activities that would otherwise compete for the same resources.

Contact Us

Reclaimed Water Availability / Questions

Have a question about reclaimed water, or want to know if it is available in your area? Send an e-mail to [email protected]  - but don't forget to include your name and address.

Reclaimed Usage Rates

These rates are relevant for customers that currently have reclaimed water.

2017 Rates

Type of Facility Cost (Per 1,000 Gallons)
Agricultural facilities (including nurseries) $0.10
Large recreational facilities and golf courses $0.21
Governmental facilities (including schools) $0.34
Large commercial, industrial and utility facilities $0.34
Residential and commercial common areas $0.34
Master metered residential commercial $0.34
Individual metered residential and commercial $0.86


If you do not have reclaimed water currently available at your location, and are interested in what you may do to acquire reclaimed water, learn what requirements must be met.

Reclaimed Water Authorized Uses

Reclaimed Water Do's and Don'ts

Recommended uses for reclaimed water:

  • To irrigate parks, golf courses, medians and residential lawns. 
  • Tto irrigate citrus, pasture lands and other crops. 
  • Rapid infiltration basins can be used to allow high-quality reclaimed water to soak into the ground to recharge valuable ground water. 
  • Industrial facilities and power plants can use reclaimed water as a source of water for cooling, or for some manufacturing processes. 
  • To create, restore, or enhance wetlands. 
  • Supplied to fire hydrants and sprinkler systems for fire fighting. In Manatee County, fire hydrants connected to reclaimed water lines are painted a distinctive lavender. 
  • Used in decorative ponds, fountains and other landscaping features. 
  • Sprinkled at construction sites or other places to reduce dust.

Do not use reclaimed water for:

  • Consumption: Neither humans nor animals should drink reclaimed water.
  • For toilet flushing or other household uses.
  • Connecting with another water source.
  • Bathing or swimming. 
  • Above-ground hose bibs, faucets, quick couplers or hoses, etc.
  • Filling swimming pools.
  • Sharing a common reclaimed service or connection between properties.
  • Washing of equipment such as cars, boats, driveways or structures.

Special Use Permits

Homeowners wishing to use reclaimed water for purposes other than irrigation of landscape, plants, and turf grass, must submit a request for evaluation and approval to:

Reclaimed Water Section
Utilities Department
4410 66th St. W.
Bradenton, FL 34210

Follow the Rules

Where reclaimed water is used, all of the non-permitted uses listed above are violations of state law and/or county ordinances or policies, and may be subject to financial penalties as well as interruption of service.

Seasonal Availability


Reclaimed water is highly treated wastewater effluent used for irrigation purposes.  Manatee County has invested significantly in developing a reclaimed water distribution system that includes over 200 miles of piping, 1.3 billion gallons of storage and 6 pumping stations serving more than 10,000 accounts.  The objective of this system is to safely and beneficially dispose of highly treated wastewater effluent in a manner both protective of the environment and that promotes water conservation.  The availability of reclaimed water for irrigation helps to reduce the use of potable water and groundwater pumping.  Manatee County ranks among the top third out of counties in the state in reclaimed water system operational efficiency (FDEP 2021 annual report, see web link below). 
However, the reclaimed water system is only about 10% of the size of the potable water system, meaning that the vast majority of citizens do not have access to this resource.  During the dry season, the demand for this resource can exceed supply, leading to periodic low reclaimed system water pressures.  Since the County cannot guarantee reclaimed water availability, this is one of the reasons we do not charge a monthly base fee for reclaimed service, customers only pay a volume charge for the amount actually used.  There is also no preferential status to the distribution of reclaimed water, the same pipes take all of the supply that is available and distributes it to those connected to the system.  Those closer to a production facility may see greater pressure than those further away, but the resource is largely made available equally to those connected.  You may be able to successfully offset your water use to a different time of day to avoid competing with others but, unfortunately, reclaimed water supply is ultimately limited and depending on climate and use patterns, there may be shortages from time to time.  We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

FDEP 2021 Annual Report

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