The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority – who they are and what they do.

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STW™ Note: During my research on the freshwater Biscayne Aquifer I came across this interesting request for proposals from our Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA). I decided to read the PDF instead of filing it as research material. After an hour of reading and referring to resources stated within the 38 page report I was glad I did not just file the document. You will find it extremely educational, as the magnitude and scope of the FKAA responsibilities is quite interesting. The discussion of their use of chloramines will open a new research report shortly. This request for proposals would be a great foundation for any study on our Florida Keys and Biscayne Aquifer.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) was created in 1937 by Special Legislation of the State of Florida. The FKAA is the sole provider of potable water for all of the residents of the Florida Keys and presently serves over 44,000 customers within Monroe County.

Potable water is transported to the Keys through a 130 mile transmission pipeline with an additional 649 miles of distribution pipelines which deliver water to the customer’s property. In 1998 and 2002, the Authority’s Enabling Legislation was amended to redefine the primary purpose of the Authority to include collecting, treating and disposing of wastewater in certain areas of the Florida Keys.

The freshwater Biscayne Aquifer is the primary groundwater supply source for the FKAA. The Authority’s wellfield is located within an environmentally protected pine rockland forest west of Florida City on the mainland. The location of the wellfield near Everglades National Park, along with restrictions enforced by state and local regulatory agencies, contribute to the unusually high quality of the raw water. The FKAA wellfield contains some of the highest quality groundwater in the country, meeting and exceeding all regulatory drinking water standards prior to treatment. Strong laws and regulations protect FKAA’s wellfield from potential contaminating land uses. The J. Robert Dean Water Treatment Plant is staffed by state licensed personnel and it is home to one of our two nationally certified water testing laboratories.

The water taken from the ground at the well field is classified as very hard due to the relatively high concentration of calcium in the water. A process called lime softening is used to reduce the calcium hardness. Lime softening is achieved by the addition of . lime. This raises the pH, thereby causing the calcium to precipitate to the bottom of the treatment unit leaving softened water for use by customers. Softened water does not deposit as much calcium scale on household plumbing fixtures and cooking utensils and allows shampoo, laundry detergent and other soaps to lather better.

The softened water is then piped to “dual media filters”: layers of anthracite and fine sand, a copy of the process that Mother Nature uses to filter water. A disinfectant is then added to prevent any bacteria growth the water could pick up on its journey from Florida City to Key West. Chlorine and ammonia are combined into the water to form Chloramines, a long lasting disinfectant without the objectionable taste and odor of regular chlorine. Fluoride, which is recommended for drinking water by the American Dental Association to prevent cavities and strengthen bones is then added.

FKAA’s water is pumped to the Keys through a 130 mile long transmission main at a maximum pressure of 250 pounds per square inch. The pipe begins with a diameter of 36″, narrowing to 24″ and ending with an 18″ diameter. 800 horsepower electric motors are used at the water plant to pump water south. In case of emergency or power outage FKAA has two 1,000 horsepower diesel pumps and forty-five thousand gallons of fuel in storage. As an example, the diesel pumps were run for 28 days continuously after Hurricane Andrew. High pressure is required to move the water over long distances. The FKAA has booster pump stations in Key Largo, Long Key, Marathon, Ramrod Key and Stock Island to maintain desired pressures in the water main.

In the event of emergency or pipeline disruption, the FKAA uses its storage facilities located throughout the Keys to keep customers in water. The current storage capacity of the system is 45 million gallons. Also, the FKAA has two seawater desalination plants, located on Stock Island and in Marathon. The desalination facilities produce freshwater from ocean saltwater and are an emergency source of 3 million gallons per day of potable water for the Lower and Middle Keys. FKAA desalinated water recently won a statewide drinking water contest, and represented the state of Florida in the national competiton in Washington DC.

The dry season, from December to May, coincides with the Florida Keys’ busiest season. When demand rises, the FKAA may blend up to 4 percent of our daily water supply from the deeper, brackish Floridan Aquifer. The temporary change does not affect water quality and customers should not notice any change in taste or clarity.

As part of our future water supply to meet anticipated greater demand, FKAA has built a new brackish water reverse osmosis desalination addition to our Florida City water plant. The new facility adds up to 6 million gallons per day to supply while ensuring the long term viability of the Biscayne Aquifer. The new R.O. plant was completed in 2009.

To read the entire 38 pg request for proposals please click: Florida Keys Aquaduct Authority Education PDF

Further information may be obtained from the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority’s website.

Water quality

FKAA was featured in WaterWorld Magazine for Excellence in Water Quality, click here to read article. 

To see latest water quality report, click here.

For the Water Quality Sampling Analysis Form click here

To learn what a Precautionary Boil Notice is click here

For the Drinking Water Standards click here

If you have any questions, please call our Water Quality Division at (305) 295.2178.

FKAA Wastewater Projects

Key Haven

Big Coppitt Regional (Encompassing Big Coppitt Key, Geiger Key, Shark Key, and Rockland Key)

Bay Point

Cudjoe Regional (Encompassing Lower Sugarloaf Key, Upper Sugarloaf Key, Cudjoe Key, Summerland Key, Little Torch Key and Big Pine Key)

Duck Key Regional (Encompassing Duck Key, Conch Key and Hawk’s Cay)

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FKAA Reclaimed Water Service

What Is Reclaimed Water?

Reclaimed water, sometimes called recycled water, is former wastewater that has been highly treated and disinfected so that it can be safely used for non-potable (non-drinking) uses, such as irrigation, vehicle washing and aesthetic fountains. Reclaimed water is delivered through a completely separate system of piping than potable (drinking) water, and can be easily distinguished by the required purple pipe. Meeting the strictest guidelines set forth by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, reclaimed water is a safe and cost-efficient alternative for conserving our valuable freshwater supply. The following link provides an informational brochure for reclaimed water.

Where is Reclaimed Water Service Available?

Big Coppitt Key / Rockland Key / Shark Key (Big Coppitt Regional Wastewater District) – Currently, reclaimed water service is available on a first come, first serve basis within certain sections of the Big Coppitt Regional Wastewater District. The link below provides a map of the Big Coppitt reclaimed water service area.

Duck Key – Reclaimed water service will soon be available on a first come, first serve basis within certain sections of Duck Key. Currently, residents in these sections are welcome to review the above Reclaimed Water Brochure and return the reclaimed water service request portion to the FKAA, prior to its availability. The link below provides a map of the Duck Key reclaimed water service area, which will be updated frequently to include additional areas once construction in these areas is complete.

More About Reclaimed Water…

The following links will help you better understand reclaimed water and how to connect to the Reclaimed System.

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