Since September 2002, Tampa Bay Water’s state-of-the-art surface water treatment plant has provided high-quality drinking water to the Tampa Bay region. The plant is the hub of the utility’s Enhanced Surface Water System—the first alternative water supply built to serve local governments that traditionally relied on groundwater.
When available, water is skimmed from the Tampa Bypass Canal, Hillsborough and Alafia rivers. Some is treated for immediate use at the Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant, and surplus water is stored in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir to supply the water treatment plant during dry times.
The amount of water supplied by the surface water treatment plant varies weekly depending on a number of factors, including how much river water is available. The plant can produce 99 million gallons per day (mgd) annual average and has a maximum rated capacity of 120 mgd.
The plant was built and expanded under a successful public-private partnership with Veolia Water, formerly USFilter. Under this Design-Build-Operate process, Tampa Bay Water is the owner of the plant, but Veolia designed, built and is under contract to operate the plant until 2023.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District co-funded a portion of the capital costs to build and expand the facility.
Surface water contains organic materials, which must be removed to make the water safe for drinking and aesthetically pleasing. The water must also be disinfected. The treated surface water produced by the regional treatment plants meets the high quality standards established by Tampa Bay Water’s members and is superior to both state and federal drinking water standards.
FIRST STAGE: ACTIFLO® The plant incorporates the most advanced technologies throughout the treatment process. In the first stage of treatment, Veolia Water's patented ACTIFLO® process is used to remove the color and particles from the water. ACTIFLO® is widely used throughout the world and is particularly advantageous when treating large flow rates with variable raw water quality—exactly the conditions found in the surface water treatment plant. ACTIFLO® builds on the traditional chemical treatment process by adding fine grain sand with polymer. After this step, the water moves into the maturation tank for further mixing, allowing large particles called “floc” to form. This clumping process removes color and organic matter from the water. The floc and raw water are separated in a settling tank.
SECOND STAGE: OZONE DISINFECTION Ozone is the primary disinfectant used in the regional surface water treatment plant. Used throughout the United States, it is the most powerful disinfectant in water treatment today. Ozone kills microorganisms that may be left in the water, including bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
THIRD STAGE: BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE FILTRATION Water moves from the ozone tank to the biologically active filtration area where “good bacteria” aid in removing remaining organic molecules. After that, layers of sand and granular activated carbon filter out any remaining particles. The water is then disinfected again, using a two-process process of chlorine and chloramines, before it is blended with other treated supplies and distributed to Tampa Bay Water’s member governments.
Tampa Bay Water offers tours, by appointment, every other Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant operation is a public/private partnership.
Tampa Bay Water owns the facility. The water is blended with other water supplies and delivered to Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Veolia Water North America operates the plant. Veolia Water North America, a part of Veolia Environnement, is the leading provider of comprehensive water and wastewater partnership services to municipal and industrial customers, providing services to more than 14 million people in approximately 650 North American communities. veolianorthamerica.com
The Southwest Florida Water Management District, responsible for managing the public’s water resources in 16 counties of west-central Florida, provided 50 percent for eligible capital costs of the facility. watermatters.org