1. News
  2. /
  3. Florida Politics
  4. /
  5. The Buzz

Jane Castor officially strips ‘toilet-to-tap’ from plan to fix city’s water and sewer systems

Tampa’s mayor also announces an expansion of aid to low-income residents to help them pay for proposed utility rate increases.
Jane Castor faces an important City Council vote tonight on a $2.9 billion plan to upgrade Tampa's infrastructure over the next 20 years. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Jane Castor faces an important City Council vote tonight on a $2.9 billion plan to upgrade Tampa's infrastructure over the next 20 years. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 5, 2019
Updated Sep. 5, 2019

TAMPA—It’s been a source of conflict between Tampa and St. Petersburg, a bête noir for environmentalists and a project once deemed essential to future growth in the state’s third-largest city.

But, at least for now, a $300 million proposal to convert wastewater to drinking water dubbed ‘toilet-to-tap’ by critics and Tampa Augmentation Project by the city is off the table.

RELATED STORY: Is Tampa Bay headed for another Water War?

Mayor Jane Castor officially announced the sewage reuse project wouldn’t be part of what is now a $2.9 billion plan to revamp the city’s aging sewage and water infrastructure.

In a memo to council members Thursday —hours before a public hearing and crucial vote on her Progressive Infrastructure Plan to Ensure Sustainability (PIPES) plan— Castor said it was important to move forward on the rest of the plan without toilet to tap.

But the mayor signaled her intent to keep searching for new sources of water.

“Consideration of alternative water sources is not a matter we can afford to postpone given the expected increases in Tampa’s population and the desire to provide water at cost efficient rates,” she wrote.

Last week, council members voted 5-2 to request the reuse project be taken out of the proposal.

RELATED STORY: City Council prepares to vote on water and sewer rate hikes

Castor also addressed another concern: the ability of low-income residents to pay utility bills expected to nearly double by 2028 if her proposal is approved at tonight’s 6 p.m. City Hall hearing.

An expanded Customer Assistance Program will increase eligibility more than 300 percent from 6,900 to 29,000 households by removing previous requirements that recipients be seniors and/or disabled.

Now, households up to 30 percent of area median income levels will be eligible. For a family of four that translates to household income up to $25,750.

“I am confident that with these two amendments the City Council will be encouraged to act today on PIPES. I am also hopeful that the City Council keeps an open mind toward the sustainable water supply needs for our citizens, visitors and regional community in the foreseeable future, by objectively seeking the most efficient, effective and equitable options available within the innovative industry,” Castor wrote.

Follow the Times for live coverage of tonight’s hearing on Twitter @CharlieFrago and look for the story tonight on


  1. Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the ​U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) [PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP]
    It’s also the first visit by any Democratic contender this year
  2. Jimmy Patronis had been appointed to the state’s Public Service Commission by Gov. Scott.
    FDLE cited a ‘potential conflict,’ Leon County State Attorney Jack Campbell said.
  3. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  4. Florida House Speaker José Oliva made hospital deregulation one of his top priorities. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Speaker José Oliva slammed pharmaceutical companies in his opening day speech, but a bill to place $100 caps on co-payments for insulin will not pass this year. In fact, it won’t even get a hearing.
  5. The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Judge Renatha Francis has not been a member of the Florida Bar for 10 years.
  6. State Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, speaks before volunteers with the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action outside the Florida Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. [[LAWRENCE MOWER | Tampa Bay Times]]
    Like it has since the Parkland massacre, the gun debate is growing fierce in Tallahassee. But there are some significant changes this year.
  7. West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James talks with his Director of Communications Kathleen Walter while going over the state of the city address in his office at the City of West Palm Beach municipal building in West Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday, January 15, 2020.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James leads a city about the same size as Buttigieg’s South Bend. Here’s what his day looks like. Is this presidential experience?
  8. The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    “Death is indeed different,” wrote the lone dissenting justice. “This Court has taken a giant step backward."
  9. State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, presents legislation to create a new chapter of Florida law dedicated to parents' rights when dealing with government and other agencies, during a committee meeting Jan. 23, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Parents have been marginalized by bureaucracy, and need to be empowered in law, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall says.
  10. Wichita State Shockers center Jaime Echenique (21) and USF Bulls guard David Collins (0) battle for the loose ball during the second half at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Lawmakers may require public colleges and universities to ask permission before selling naming rights.