In 2018 and earlier this year, Tampa Electric Company (TECO) announced it was making modifications to its Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach, Fla., where the desalination plant is co-located. TECO is switching part of the Big Bend Power Plant from coal to natural gas. As a result, two of its four cooling water units will be retired.
The cooling water units supply the desalination plant with source water and also dilute the leftover salty concentrate from the desalination facility after drinking water is produced. With two of the four cooling water units being retired, our desalination operations will be affected in three areas: water temperature, concentrate discharge dilution reliability, and water supply reliability.
The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant is an important, drought-proof component of our system, and its continued long-term operations benefit the entire region. Tampa Bay Water is working with TECO on intake and discharge modifications at our facility, including:
These solutions are intended to keep the desalination plant running at its current capacity, but additional solutions are required to address capacity expansion. Tampa Bay Water is exploring a number of options to keep this drought-proof supply operational at full or expanded capacity in the future. Those options will be reported to Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors once additional information is available.