Tampa’s ‘Toilet to Tap’ water plan threatened by state legislation

By The Numbers

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – One of Tampa’s most controversial plans is coming back up into conversation among the city’s residents.

Last summer, 8 On Your Side dug deeper into the “Toilet to Tap” plan — officially called the Tampa Augmentation Project. The project planned to use 60 million gallons of treated wastewater that currently flows into Tampa Bay and pump it deeper into an underground aquifer, after which it would be pumped back into the city’s reservoir to be treated again as drinking water.

The plan was to implement the project by 2026.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor removed the request for the $300 million meant to fund the project in September 2019. Activists and those concerned about the environment thought that was the end of the discussion.

But according to an annual report, the City of Tampa apparently still “intends to implement the Tampa Augmentation Project that will eliminate its needs for wholesale water from the Tampa Bay Water system.”

There are 13 well-fields in the three counties that make up Tampa Bay Water. Currently, 120 million gallons are permitted to go through the seven treatment facilities each day.

Requests for a statement from Tampa Bay Water went unanswered.

Last week, however, a Florida Senate Committee passed SB 1656, which would prohibit cities from discharging reclaimed water into any surface waters by 2026.

The water would then be in the hands of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection to capture, treat and release the water back into waterways.

The bill is currently being considered by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.

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