Reclaimed wastewater recommended to be released into Hillsborough River

stakeholders assessing Hillsborough River flowSeptember 2021 – Jaturna Consultants and Applied Sciences, under contract with the City of Tampa, produced a new study on June 7, 2021 on alternatives to the current discharge of treated wastewater to the Bay. Staff from the City of Tampa presented the study to the River Board’s Technical Advisory Council (TAC) in August.

The City of Tampa (the City) provides water and wastewater services to Tampa, Temple Terrace and Hillsborough County, as well as limited reclaimed water service. The City produces the majority of its own water supply and is a member of Tampa Bay Water (TBW), the regional wholesale water provider, from whom they can obtain potable water. The ability for the City to self-supply potable water is limited by the permitted withdrawal quantity from the Hillsborough River Reservoir. The permit also imposes an obligation to meet regulatory minimum river flows downstream of the withdrawal.

The consultants were charged with addressing three challenges:

  1. Elimination of effluent discharge from the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (HFCAWTP) into Hillsborough Bay as called for by legislation approved by the Florida Legislature in April 2021.
  2. Securing an additional reliable source of sufficient freshwater to ensure compliance with the Lower Hillsborough River Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs).
  3. Improvement to water supply reliability with a sustainable water source to offset withdrawal from and drought-proof the Hillsborough River Reservoir (HRR).

Criteria used to evaluate alternative uses of the wastewater were discharge reduction, minimum flow level requirement, supply reliability, implementation feasibility, and other considerations including saltwater intrusion, grant funding potential and public image enhancement. The TAC asked why environmental and public safety were not included evaluation criteria. City staff answered that whatever project is selected would comply with all health and safety regulations.

The report concludes that aquifer recharge and recovery then discharge to the Hillsborough River Reservoir above the dam is the best choice of projects. Read the full report: https://www.tampa.gov/document/alternatives-analysis-final-report-81586

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