Plan to Add Treated Wastewater to Tampa’s Drinking Water Supply Rejected

Sept. 19, 2022
The plan, which is called Pure (purify useable resources for the environment), is a repackaged strategy that has been shut down previously under different names.

A plan to add treated wastewater to Tampa’s drinking water supply has been shot down by the city council.

Council members received feedback from members of the Sierra Club and the group Friends of the Hillsborough River about their objections, reported WFLA News. These objections bring up fears that adding treated wastewater to city drinking water would be dangerous. 

The plan, which is called Pure (purify useable resources for the environment), is a repackaged strategy that has been shut down previously under different names. Pure is still investigating other options, reported WFLA News. 

Tampa treats millions of gallons of wastewater at the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and approximately three million gallons of that wastewater waters some lawns in South Tampa, which is considered the “Star Project.”

“This wastewater would have some amounts every drug, every chemical anyone gets at Walgreens, hormones, anti-depressants, insulin, you name it. What happens when your grandchild drinks this water with all of this in it her entire life,” said Phil Compton with the group Friends of the Hillsborough River, reported WFLA News.

There is a proposal to give an additional $1.2 million to the study that was rejected, added WFLA News. This rejection was also prompted by the negative reaction by the public. 

According to the city, "a new state law requires that the city come up with a comprehensive plan to better use treated wastewater and that’s what the 'pure' study was designed to do," reported WFLA News.

The first phase of the “Star Project” brought reclaimed water to selected South Tampa neighborhoods in 2009. but plans to expand the project were rejected by the City Council were shut down when a consultant estimated that ti would cost approximately $1.3 billion to bring reclaimed water to all customers, reported WFLA.

Not everyone eligible signed up for the “Star Project” was taking advantage of it, resulting in approximately 55 million gallons a day of treated wastewater being pumped into Tampa Bay.

“It starts with the wastewater collection system,” said current City Water Director Chuck Weber, reported WFLA News. “As part of this program, what we would be doing is enhanced monitoring in that system and looking for anything that could be a problem in the wastewater treatment facility itself.”

The wastewater will go through additional levels of treatment before being introduced into the drinking water supply, Weber adds.

“It uses chemistry and biology and advanced treatment to get the water to a quality that’s every bit as good as what’s coming out of the Hillsborough River, which is our drinking water source right now,” said Weber, reported WFLA News. “The water that we are drinking now, no matter what source it came from, at one point it went through a wastewater treatment plant."

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Cristina Tuser

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