Pricing Reclaimed Water as a Source
Tampa Bay Water has, for decades, considered reclaimed water as a potential source of drinking water, either directly or indirectly. One of the first projects considered was the Tampa Water Resource Recovery Project in 1998 and was included in the utility’s 1998 Amended and Restated Interlocal Agreement. A project called the Downstream Augmentation project followed in 2002.
Currently, Tampa Bay Water is investigating the South Hillsborough Wellfield, which involves studying the feasibility of new groundwater withdrawal wells in the Balm area. These withdrawals would be offset by purchasing credits from Hillsborough County’s reclaimed water aquifer recharge project. The South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project (SHARP), pumps reclaimed water into a salty, coastal zone of the aquifer. Pilot studies show the recharge water creates a “mound” that prevents saltwater intrusion into fresh groundwater and increases aquifer levels several miles inland from the recharge well location.
For any reclaimed water project to move forward, Tampa Bay Water must reach a long-term agreement with the reclaimed water provider on pricing for either reclaimed water or reclaimed credits. Striking a fair price over the long-term is critical to ensuring resource availability and protecting water rates for all Tampa Bay Water members.
“Tampa Bay Water must meet the region’s water demands at all times,” explained Chuck Carden, interim general manager. “We will build the right project, at the right time, to ensure this region has enough water for future generations.”