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Officials weigh wastewater solutions in Hillsborough

TAMPA — Ideas continue to flow about what to do with the region's wastewater, much of which now gets dumped into Tampa Bay.

On Tuesday, the Southwest Florida Water Management District will consider approving $500,000 to study using the water to recharge the aquifer along the Hillsborough coast from the Alafia River south to the Manatee County line.

A potential source of that water could be Tampa, said Dave Moore, executive director of Swiftmud.

But Steve Daignault, the city's administrator for public works and utilities, said Tampa hasn't agreed to provide water for the project.

Mayor Pam Iorio has pledged to keep reclaimed water produced by the city within city limits to off-set use of drinking water for things like watering lawns and industry.

City officials are working on a plan to accomplish that goal.

Tampa dumps 55-million gallons a day of treated sewer water into Tampa Bay. The water contains high levels of nitrogen, which is damaging for some fish and plants.

Moore said putting the treated water in the aquifer would filter out some pollutants before its reaches the bay. And recharge would allow for increased pumping of drinkable water miles inland.

The proposal also suggests sending 10-million gallons a day from Hillsborough County and Lakeland to fertilizer giant Mosaic for storage. The water would then be shipped and sold to Tampa Electric Co., to expand its Polk County operations.

That concept first came to light in April.

A private, nonprofit called Water Partners Inc. headed by two Tampa attorneys had hoped to build and manage the pipeline using $90-million in public money.

The organization was forced out of the project amid concerns about financial oversight.

Now, city, county and business officials are working on creating a governmental authority to manage the water.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Officials weigh wastewater solutions in Hillsborough 07/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 2:11pm]
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