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Press Releases

Reuse Water System Update

Posted April 7th, 2023


The reuse system was turned back on the afternoon Friday, April 7, 2023. The main reuse line has been flushed to remove debris caused by the turbulence from the new system connections, but some debris may still exist between the main and customer sprinkler heads. Customers should remove filters and run their irrigation system until water is running clear of debris (this should only take a few minutes). Please refer to the tips below for more information on how to flush these smaller lines before resuming regular irrigation.

Click to Download Tips: Cleaning a Clogged Irrigation System

 Tips: Cleaning a Clogged Irrigation System


  • Gloves
  • Bucket with enough Bleach or Liquid Chlorine to cover the sprinkler head screens.
  • Vise Grips
  • Adjustable Plyers
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Flat and Phillips Head Screw Drivers

The Process

  1. Remove all screens from the sprinkler heads.*
  2. Soak in the bucket of bleach or liquid chlorine for 24 hours.
  3. Thoroughly rinse all parts and reinstall the screens to the sprinkler heads.
  4. Before placing the screens and sprinkler heads back into the in ground sprinkler body, manually run each zone from your irrigation timer. Each zone should run for roughly two to three minutes. This process will help to flush any remaining debris that may remain in the residential property’s irrigation lines to prevent re-clogging the screens.
  5. When the irrigation water running is clear, then reinstall the screens and sprinkler heads into the in-ground sprinkler body.

Note: The City has completed an investigation and assessment of the sediment to confirm it is biological growth that naturally occurs in pipes. There is no sewage debris in the irrigation lines. There is no concern for human or environmental health.

If your irrigation system continues to become clogged after following these step please contact Winter Haven’s Water Department at (863) 291-5678.

Helpful Resources

*Please note that if you are working on the irrigation solenoid valves do not forget to turn off the water that feeds the irrigation system before beginning the cleaning and flushing process.


The City of Winter Haven is committed to utilizing reuse water for irrigation. The reuse system is an environmental sustainability best practice, and given the significant concerns of water supply in the region we have had this practice in place for more than 20 years. Additionally, it lessens the fiscal impact on our customers as the reuse rates are lower than potable water rates.

Debris in Irrigation Systems on Reuse

In the past, reuse customers have seen intermittent interruptions to availability of the reuse water supply. To help mitigate this, the City of Winter Haven made significant investments to enhance the reuse system by running new lines to connect the two wastewater treatment plants together. The valve was opened December 6, 2022, fully connecting Wastewater Treatment Plant Two (located in Northeast Winter Haven) with Wastewater Treatment Plant Three (located in South Winter Haven). This allows staff to flow water either southward or northward through the system to maximize reuse water supply to our customers and minimize interruptions in service.

The new direction of flow through the previously existing pipes has created turbulence causing some of the naturally occurring sediment lining the pipe to dislodge and float through the system. Customers may see a white material in their irrigation system filters as a result. City staff is experiencing the same buildup on City-owned reuse irrigation systems including downtown, City Hall and MLK Park. We understand the frustration and inconvenience this causes.

The City has completed an investigation and assessment of the sediment and can confirm it is biological growth that naturally occurs in pipes that has been dislodged as a result of turbulence in the system. There is no sewage debris in the line. There is no concern for human or environmental health.

Unavailability of Reuse Water

The reuse water system has been offline due to an unrelated occurrence in February, 2023 when Wastewater Treatment Plant Two experienced a major clogging issue caused by grease, wipes and other objects being flushed into the sewer system. This resulted in an on-site spill that forced the plant to be shut down. The spill was contained, reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and cleaned up. The incident resulted in the need to keep portions of the plant shut down as crews worked to mitigate, repair and restore Wastewater Treatment Plant Two.

In order to complete the required repairs, the reuse lines had to be shut down. During repairs, water is being stored in the lines but cannot be accessed by customers for irrigation as all valves for reuse water have been shut off. Repairs are anticipated to be completed within the next few days.

Restoration of Reuse Service

Once the treatment plant is fully restored and operational, treated water will be used to fully flush the lines that have been stagnant for several weeks. This will be done out of an abundance of caution to ensure water remains up to all standards of treatment for reuse before service is restored to customers. We anticipate full service to be restored within one to two weeks.

What Should Reuse Customers Do?

Unfortunately, this series of events coincides with a time of drought-like conditions. We encourage residents to temporarily irrigate utilizing potable water through a hose connection at their home with free-standing sprinklers. This temporary solution will help to ensure the health of lawns and foliage.

We also encourage reuse customers to check their irrigation systems. If sprinkler heads are found to be clogged, simply soak them for 24 hours in a 50/50 mix of water and bleach. This will dissolve the natural sediment from the turbulence of the recently connected pipes. The next seven days is the ideal time to complete this task to ensure systems are ready to go when the reuse supply is reopened.

Credit to Reuse Customers

The City of Winter Haven team is working to develop a credit program for reuse customers. This credit will be designed to account for the lack of availability and the potential increase of potable water use to temporarily irrigate lawns and landscaping.

If you have experienced undue hardships or expenses as a result of the reuse system being offline, please contact the City of Winter Haven’s Human Resources Department at 863-291-5650 to submit a claim. Claims will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.