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Lawrence R. Parsons, Bahman Sheikh, Robert Holden and David W. York

Reclaimed water has been safely and successfully used for more than 40 years in Florida and California. Reclaimed water in these states is regulated with restrictions more stringent than World Health Organization guidelines. In the United States, Florida is currently the largest producer and California is the second largest producer of reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is more highly tested than other sources of irrigation water, and the safety of this water has been demonstrated in these and other states. Very high application rates of reclaimed water to citrus on well-drained Florida sands increased tree growth and fruit production. Although reclaimed water contains some nutrient elements, there is usually insufficient macronutrient content to meet plant nutritional requirements. Most reclaimed waters do not have high salinity levels although they are slightly more salty than the potable waters from which they originated. With an adequate leaching fraction, salts in reclaimed water can be handled with appropriate irrigation management. Use of reclaimed water has steadily increased in Florida since 1992, but other entities besides agricultural irrigation are now competing for its use. Public acceptance of reclaimed water has also increased, and crops grown with reclaimed water in Florida and California have been marketed without a negative public reaction. Recent issues of food safety have caused some to question reclaimed water, but there is no evidence of food safety problems with its use. Although reclaimed water in Florida was initially promoted as a way to improve surface water quality, it has now become an important alternate source of water to help meet water shortages and urban demand. In California, reclaimed water has become a necessary part of statewide water management.