TAMPA — City officials unveiled plans Tuesday for a $340 million expansion of the reclaimed water system and a proposal to force people who live along the system’s lines to use the water.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Mayor Pam Iorio. “Supplying the majority of the city with reclaimed water is going to take time. It’s going to take funding. First you have to start with a plan.”
Reclaimed water lines currently reach about 8,700 customers in south Tampa. About 3,600 customers have already connected to the system.
Under the proposal, people with access to the highly treated wastewater would not be able to use drinkable water for lawn watering as of Dec. 1.
To enforce the rule, city officials say they will remove potable water irrigation meters along reclaimed lines and remove or lock reclaimed water meters that are not being used.
The City Council is scheduled to consider the recommendations at a workshop May 28.
“It’s long overdue,” Council member John Dingfelder said of the proposal. “Putting drinking water out on yards when you’ve got access to reclaimed is sinful.”
An expansion that could be completed in five years would reach another 9,000 customers in an area loosely bordered by Bayshore Boulevard, Ballast Point and North Hyde Park as well as big users such as Tampa International Airport and International Plaza.
By 2024, the water would service neighborhoods in New Tampa.
The cost of construction would be shared by the city, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and Tampa Bay Water, the regional utility. Tampa Bay Water wants to take some of the reclaimed water to Pasco County.