Desalination plant nearly 'done deal' for Tampa Bay Region

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a notification of intent to issue the final permit for Tampa Bay's Desalination Plant.

April 25, 2001—The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a notification of intent to issue the final permit for Tampa Bay's Desalination Plant.

The notification is the next-to-last step of the permitting process and clears the way for beginning construction. Barring an administrative challenge, the final permit will be issued in 14 days.

The permit comes after 18 months of scientific review by a number of environmental and governmental agencies including the Tampa Bay Estuary program, Tampa Baywatch, the Agency on Bay Management, Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission and others. Thus far, all reviews have demonstrated that the plant will produce high-quality water while protecting water quality in Tampa Bay.

'Given the exhaustive scientific review, the environmental protections built into the system and the support of many people across the Tampa Bay region, we're anxious to get started on construction. We're ready to provide Tampa Bay Water (the regional wholesaler) 25 million gallons a day of high-quality, environmentally-friendly, drought-proof water,' said Tim DeFoe, project manager, Tampa Bay Desal.

"We're pleased that DEP has moved on this permit and we're looking forward to adding this water to the regional system," said Don Lindeman, project manager for Tampa Bay Water. "We're committed to reducing production from our 11 regional wellfields, and the desalination plant is critical to accomplishing that goal by adding a drought-proof supply to the regional system.

At this point, challenging the permit would result in costly and unnecessary delay of construction. More importantly, water from this desalination plant is part of the replacement supplies that will allow Tampa Bay Water to reduce pumping in stressed wellfields in northern Hillsborough and central Pasco counties.

Tampa Bay Desal is a $110 million, privately funded facility, which will produce 25 million gallons of high quality drinking water for the region every day. It is scheduled to be online by December 2002.

Tampa Bay Desal is a subsidiary of Poseidon Resources, a company that specializes in financing and developing water and wastewater treatment infrastructure.

Tampa Bay Water is the regional water wholesaler whose member governments include Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, and the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

County to hold public hearing to discuss permit

Hillsborough County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing May 1 regarding the Florida DEP's notice.

County staff will present on Tampa Bay Desal's proposed industrial wastewater facility permit will be followed by a public comment period. Comment will be limited to the wastewater facility permit and the various options County Commissioners may choose.

County Commissioners have the following options:

1) Elect not to challenge the permit.

2) File for a Chapter 120, Florida Statutes administrative hearing, challenging the permit.

3) If others challenge the permit in a Chapter 120 proceeding, intervene in opposition to the permit.

4) If others challenge the permit in a Chapter 120 proceeding, intervene in support of the permit.

If the board of County Commissioners does not conclude deliberations on May 1, it will reconvene only its deliberations and final action on May 2, at a regularly scheduled Board Meeting.

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