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Robert Trigaux

American Water Works touts Tampa desal



Wake up and good morning. Feeling thirsty? After a long time of trying to get it right, American Water Works Co. is busy bragging of the success -- and the kudos it is receiving -- for getting the Tampa Bay desalination plant up and running. American Water in January cut the ribbon on what is the nation's largest seawater desalination plant in the United States. At 25-million gallons per day (when the plant reaches that level), the facility can provide about 10 percent of the Tampa Bay region's drinking water supply. Here's a look at the history of the plant. That supply is sure to become part of a bigger plan for the state as policy wonks haggle, as reported recently in the St. Petersburg Times, over how to get water-rich portions of the state to share with water-poor regions.

In its earnings conference call (here it is in full) with analysts last week, American Water noted the Tampa plant was named the desalination plant of the year by Global Water Intelligence, and it was selected as one of the "2008 Trendsetters" by Public Works magazine, which names 50 people, places and events that have the greatest impact on the nation's infrastructure over the year.

Here's what was said about the Tampa Bay plant as reported in the November issue of Public Works magazine.

"After closing in 2005 due to design problems, the nation's largest seawater desalination plant is back on line, pumping up to 25 mgd. Through a public-private partnership, Tampa Bay Water enlisted American Water-Pridesa to lead the remediation, including redesigning the reverse osmosis membrane cleaning system; converting the dual-stage sand filtration system to single-stage; and adding diatomaceous earth filters, screens to remove incoming debris from source water, a variable-speed capability cooling water pump, rapid mixing of treatment chemicals, and conditioning prior to filtration."

Founded in 1886 and based in Voorhees, N.J., American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,000 and provide water-related services to 15-million people in 32 states and Ontario, Canada. The company has been a unit of Germany's giant RWE AG. But in April of this year, American Water had an initial public offering. The shares were offered by the selling stockholder, RWE. American Water's shares now trade under the symbol AWK.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:22am]


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