Utility Services Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to some of the most popular questions regarding Utility Services.
Reclaimed Water Service
Is reclaimed water safe?
Reclaimed water is treated so it is safe for incidental human contact such as lawn irrigation.
Is it drinkable?
Reclaimed water is not the same as potable (drinking) water and is not suitable for human consumption.
Is reclaimed water always available?
Not Always. There are a variety of circumstances such as limited supply, system maintenance, and quality assurance requirements that may occasionally limit availability.
Can you use it in pools and spa?
Reclaimed water is not the same as potable water and is not suitable for human contact, such as bathing, swimming pools or laundry.
How much can I use?
Reclaimed water supplied by Brevard County is not metered, therefore there is no limit on it's use; however; over watering is likely to cause problems with your lawn.
Can I have a hose for reclaimed water?
Hoses are allowed with the provision that special fittings are installed according to the current ordinance.
What is the service line size?
The reclaimed water service lines are generally 3/4 inch.
Can I use reclaimed water for water to an air A/C?
Yes if all of the water is then used for irrigation, with no return to the sewer, no return to a well, and no discharge to a canal, ditch or pond.
Can I use reclaimed water for toilet flushing?
Under certain conditions, including metering for sewer billing and other restrictions. For further information on this question, please contact the Utility Services Department at (321) 633-2091.
Does reclaimed water smell or stain?
What can I water with reclaimed water?
All ornamental plants, trees, turfs and grasses may be watered. Food crops that are to be peeled or cooked can be watered by any method.
Can I water food crops?
Food crops that are to be peeled or cooked can be watered by any method. "Salad" crops should be watered in a manner so as to avoid getting water on the plant/leaves.
Do I have to abandon my well?
There can be no interconnection between the reclaimed water system and any other system. The well may remain but must be physically disconnected from the reclaimed water piping. Reclaimed water may not be used within 100' of all potable water wells.
Can I wash my car?
Yes. Towel drying will help to prevent water spots.
Is Connection to the reclaimed water system required?
Why must I pay for reclaimed when I already pay for sewer?
The monthly sewer bill is for the treatment of sewage. Providing reclaimed water for irrigation involves additional costs above and beyond those for the treatment of sewage.
How much money will I save on my water and sewer bill?
Savings depends on current source of irrigation supply and the number of people in the house.
How can my neighborhood obtain reclaimed water?
Reclaimed water projects may be financed through a special assessment process called the Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU). For further information on this question, please contact the Utility Services Department at (321) 633-2091.
Is there any salt in reclaimed water?
The salt content in reclaimed water varies with location. On Merritt Island and the South Beaches, the chlorides range from 500 to 600 parts per million (ppm). In the Port St. John and Suntree/Viera area, the chlorides are approximately 200 ppm. Since some plants are intolerant to salt, ask your Agriculture and Extension Service for information by calling (321) 633-1702.
Are modifications to my house or plumbing needed for reclaimed water?
An approved cross connection device is required on the potable water line serving any property receiving reclaimed water. Contact your water supplier for details. Reclaimed water piping must be completely isolated, disconnected, and separate from all potable water lines.
When can I water?
Although there are no regulatory restrictions, when demand is high we drop the system pressure during most of the day to refill storage tanks to meet the high demand night time period.
How much pressure is in the lines?
The minimum 50 psi is our goal. Although during high demand periods we are unable to maintain this level.
What causes sewer odors inside the house?
Sewage has a natural tendency to produce odors. All sewers have some odors. The plumbing system in your home is designed to prevent these odors from entering the house. If you are experiencing odors indoors, it is likely that there is a problem with the vapor trap. What is the purpose of vapor traps?
Every water fixture in your house has a vapor trap. This "U" shaped pipe is clearly visible under sinks, and is present in some form on all lines draining to the sewage system. The "U" shape holds water, preventing gases from backing up from the sewer into the house through the sink drain.
What is the purpose of the roof vent?
All houses have plumbing vents that extend through the roof. These vents allow air to flow both in and out of the house plumbing system, helping water to flow through the pipes. Working in combination with the vapor traps, gases from the sewer system are vented safely through the roof.
What are some of the problems that can occur?
When sewer gasses are present inside the home, it is usually the failure of one or more vapor traps. The water in a vapor trap will evaporate if the fixture is not used for an extended period. Seldom used bath rooms or utility sinks are commonly the source of sewer odors. The simple solution to this problem is to periodically run a small amount of water (one or two cups) into the drain, refilling the trap.
What causes blockages to occur?
Blockages can occur for two reasons. The first is the accumulation of material inside of the line. Draining unsuitable substances through the sewer, such as kitchen fats and greases or sand, clay or mud, can cause a build up and blockage in otherwise properly constructed sewers. However, the proper operation of a sewer line requires that the line is constructed "on grade", that is with a consistent slope. High or low areas along a line will cause small amounts of greases, soap scum and other material to accumulate, eventually causing a blockage. "Clean Outs" provide the homeowner or sewer drain contractor an access point for sewer line maintenance.
The second cause of blockages is the presence of sand or roots entering the line through a break or other damage to the line. Tree roots will seek out sources of water, such as sewer lines, and will enter even the smallest cracks in the line. Roots will inevitably clog a sewer line. Larger cracks will not only allow roots to enter, but will cause sand and dirt to enter the line, blocking the flow. As dirt flows into the line, a small "sink hole" or depression appears in the ground above the leak. These sink holes almost always indicate a problem with a sanitary sewer line or a storm drain, and therefore should be investigated or reported.
Are there potential problems with older drain lines?
In general, most of the problems with sluggish drains, especially in older homes, is caused by damaged drain lines. Most houses built since the 1980s use PVC drain lines. Many older houses were connected to the sewer with Orangeburg pipe. PVC drain lines can be damaged with a shovel while digging holes for plantings, fences, or other excavations. In addition to impact damage, Orangeburg pipe deteriorates through time and will eventually collapse.
What is Orangeburg Pipe?
Orangeburg pipe is a black, rolled, "tar paper" type pipe that was commonly used in the 1960s and early 1970s. This pipe material is not permanent and deteriorates with time. When Orangeburg pipe finally fails, sand washes into the pipe causing a full or partial blockage. A small "sink hole" will sometimes form over the leak where sand has fallen into the line. Deteriorated Orangeburg pipe should be replaced. Without replacement, the blockages will continue to occur. We strongly recommend that all Orangeburg pipe in the yard be replaced.
How do I tell if it is a problem with the house or the sewer system?
Most problems with sluggish drain areas are caused by problems with the homeowner’s sewer line. Unless there is reason to suspect otherwise, we recommend that you contact a plumber or drain cleaner to restore sluggish or blocked drains. We also suggest that you replace any Orangeburg pipe in use on your property. Occasionally, a plumber will suggest that the blockage is in the County maintained portion of the sewer line. In those cases, call us and we will investigate. If it is determined that the blockage was caused by a problem in the County maintained line, your reasonable plumbers bill will be reimbursed.
What other problems might happen?
Occasionally, vent pipes may become clogged. Nesting birds or leaves from overhanging trees can prevent roof vents from functioning properly. Gurgling sounds from the toilet may indicate a clogged vent.
Does it make a difference how much water gets into the sewer system?
Any crack or break in the building sewer allows ground water to enter the sewer. These leaks not only create blockages for the homeowner, but allow clean water to enter the sewer system. Once in the system, this clean water becomes sewage and must undergo all of the expense of sewage treatment and disposal. Similarly, the discharge of water from a water to air air conditioner contributes a large amount of otherwise clean water to the sewer system. A single water to air unit can contribute an amount of water equal to 40 single family homes. For these reasons, the discharge from a water to air unit is prohibited. Homeowners with cracked or broken building sewers, or deteriorated Orangeburg pipe may be required to repair or replace the building sewer to eliminate these potential problems.
Drinking Water Service
Where does Brevard County operated water systems get their water?
There are two major sources of water in the United States, ground water (wells) and surface water (rivers and lakes). The Brevard County supplied water comes from the surficial or shallow aquifer (ground water).
How is the water treated?
The well water is treated with a lime softening process (to reduce hardness), filtered (to remove particles) and chlorinated (to kill bacteria).
Is my water safe?
Water supplied by Brevard County consistently meets all Federal and State primary drinking water standards. We continually monitor the water quality using both our own in-house, State certified laboratory and an outside contract laboratory.
Do I need to buy bottled water for drinking or cooking?
No. Some people prefer bottled water for reasons of taste and personal preference, especially for drinking and making coffee or tea but it is not necessary for health or safety.
Customer Service Questions
How do I establish a new account?
To establish a new account in the North Brevard (Mims) Service Area, you must go to the Utility Services Finance office located at the Water Plant at 2262 High Dr. in Mims. To establish an account in the Barefoot Bay area you must go to the Barefoot Bay Billing office at 931 Barefoot Bay Blvd., Suite 2 in Barefoot Bay. At both of these locations you will need to fill out an application, provide a copy of your Driver’s License, and pay the appropriate deposit fee. To establish a new account with one of the many municipalities you will need to contact their offices for more information.
How are the County water and sewer rates established?
The Board of County Commissioners establishes water and sewer rates at a level sufficient to cover the cost of system operations, maintenance, and debt service. No tax dollars are use to fund the system's operation and all fees collected are used solely for the benefit of the water and wastewater system.
How can we get water, sewer, or reclaimed water service extended to our neighborhood?
The cost of constructing new sewer, water and reclaimed water lines is covered by the properties that benefit from those lines. The most common way that the utility's water and sewer lines are extended is when a subdivision developer makes those improvements during the construction of the subdivision. The cost of the utility lines are therefore included in the cost of the lots. Public services, such as water and sewer lines, road paving, sidewalks and drainage improvements, are generally constructed in existing neighborhoods through the use of special assessments. In Brevard County, Municipal Service Benefit Units (MSBU) are created to provide an administrative and funding mechanism for these projects. Although the MSBU process can be used for most types of infrastructure improvements, it is regularly used to extend potable water service.
How does the MSBU process work?
When a neighborhood or community wishes to use the special assessment process to construct public infrastructure improvements, a request (or petition) must be presented to the Department of Public Works. After a preliminary estimate of the total and per unit cost of the project has been made, a survey is mailed to all properties within the proposed improvement area. If the survey produces a 75% or better positive response, the project may be approved by the Board of County Commissioners (or city council). Special assessment projects are financed by loans or bonds. A lien is placed on each benefited property as security for the loan. The amount of the lien is determined at the end of the project when all of the costs are available. Property owners may pay all of the assessment when it comes due, or may make annual payments, usually for a ten year period. As an example, most of the water lines in Port St. John were financed and constructed through the special assessment process.
Who regulates the water and wastewater utilities?
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection regulates and permits the operation of Brevard County's water and wastewater facilities through Chapter 62 of the Florida Administrative Code. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection can be reached at the web address www.dep.state.fl.us. The St. Johns River Water Management District regulates the withdrawal of water for public water supplies, they can be reached at (386) 329-4500, or though their website www.sjrwmd.com.