4. RECENT NEWS CLIPS ON ALTERNATIVE WATER SOURCES IN THE TAMPA
A promising new source of water
A rare event took place
meeting of the West Coas
Supply Authority. Instead
the environmental damage
ing at wellfields or listening
timates of the costs of des
members heard a proposal
cantly bolster the region's
reasonable cost and
with no harm to the en-
It seems almost too
good to be true and
it may turn out to be.
But the plan to divert
rainwater runoff to a
reservoir appears to have
should be pursued.
The proposal calls for d
amount of water from loca
Tampa Bay Bypass Canal
season and piping it to a 1
voir, where it would be sto
STME WATU would bet
a sent to West Coast's water:
helps provide water to Pin
and Pasco counties and the
tersburg and Tampa.
The plan is different fro
proposals that sought to bl
flow and would have cause
both to the river the A
choice and Tampa Bay.
Contrary to what many
ly newcomers, believe, the
flows into rivers and bays
Fresh water is essential
ary. The water flow brings
food materials needed by j
birds that prey on them. T
allows the growth of veget
shelter for marine life. The
that accompanies the rainy
certain species to spawn. 1
has many such subtle effect
Without enough fresh w
would turn into a salty biok
But during the rainy sea
through September, the an
far more rainfall than the b
Copeland of Law Engineeri
Coast members that divert
of that runoff would fill a r
harming the bay.
e at Monday's The reservoir likely would be situated at
t Regional Water an old phosphate pit in south Hillsborough.
of being told about This would spare West Coast the huge ex-
e caused by pump- pense of digging a reservoir, which also
g to conflicting es- would likely cause environmental damage.
alination, board The reservoir, according to Copeland,
I that would signifi- would hold 26 billion gallons and produce up
water supplies at a to 67 million a day for local consumers. This
is significant. West
A reservoir could dramatically Coast customers in Pas-
reduce demand on the wellfields, c, Hllsbrough ad Pi-
nellas use about 200
where heavy pumping has ruined million gallon a day.
wetlands and damaged lakes. The reservoir could
........................................................ dramatically reduce de-
mand on the wellfields,
great promise. It where heavy pumping has ruined wetlands
and damaged lakes.
Drawing a small The project would not be cheap an esti-
I rivers and the mated $211 million. Indeed, it would cost
during the rainy more than a desalination plant. But it also
,800-acre reser- would produce far more water and would not
red for later use. have the environmental problems of a deal
operation, which sometimes produces toxic
created and then waste that is difficult to dispose of.
r system, which By way of comparison, a desalination plant
ellas, Hillsborough proposed for Largo would cost $20 million
Cities of St. Pe- and would produce 5 million to 10 million gal-
lons of water a day.
m past reservoir Of course, the proposal needs scrutiny.
ock or divert river Copeland may be overly optimistic about the
d significant harm costs and environmental consequences
afia was the usual Piping water around the community can
get expensive, and where those pipelines are
people, particular- located could be a source of controversy.
freshwater that Further, water in reservoirs, unlike the un-
is not wasted. derground aquifer, evaporates. Scientists will
for a healthy estu- have to calculate the likely loss.
Nutrients and the Reservoirs created by damming rivers
venile fish and the tend to fill up with silt and mud, reducing the
he fresh water also reservoirs' capacity. This shouldn't be a
action that provides problem here, but West Coast must take a
Decreased salinity close and careful look at all such potential
season triggers problems.
lhe fresh water
ts on coastal wild-
ater, Tampa Bay
son, from June
ea usually receives
ay needs. Ed
ng told West
ig just a fraction
STIL, THIS WATI-STORAGE proposal is
the most promising idea for meeting the re-
gion's fresh water needs that we have heard
in years. It may not prove workable. But as
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed
Turanchik, who has fought hard to stop over-
pumping in Hillsborough and Pasco counties,
says, "With just a small diversion of rainwa-
ter, we could have a whole new supply of wa-
ter. We need to do our homework, but this
appears to be awfully good news."
SThetTampaTribune. Tuesday. November 18.199<
Reservoir plan likely to hold water
BLEARWATER By diverting runoff In the
ainy season, the project could allow
Nest Coast to reduce pumping or shut..,
jown wellields part of the year.
SThim TepO Tribune
Water suppliers are exploring a plan
that could produce the amount of water
taken from three large wellfields and
ot a drop would come from the ground.
The project would take water from
rivers and the Tampa Bypass Canal dur-
Ing the rainy season and store it in a re-
It could yield up to 67 million gallons a
day year round, Ed Copeland of Law Engi-
neering said Monday at a West Coast Re-
gional Water Supply Authority meeting.
In addition to the reservoir, West
Coast would have to build pipelines and a
The top estimate for the project's cost
is $211 million, more expensive than a de-
salination plant, butt would produce
Between June and the end of Septem-
ber, when 65 percent of the area's 54
inches of rain falls, billion of gallons of
water flow out of the Hillsborough and
Alafia rivers and the bypass canal.
Some of that water could be diverted
without harming the environment in Tam-
pa Bay, which depends on a proper bal-
ance between fresh and saltwater, Cope-
The diverted water would be piped to
an 1,800-acre reservoir and stored during
the rainy season. It would be treated and
sent to West Coast's water system.
The reservoir, 45-feet deep, could
hold more than 26 billion gallons.
Residents in Pasco, Hillsborough and
Pinellas served by West Coast use about
200 million gallons a day.
The plan drew praise from West
"It sounds like an excellent project,
but what's the downside?" said Pasco
County Commissioner Ed Collins.
"At this point we don't see a down-
side," said Jerry Maxwell, general manag-
er of West Coast, which operates well-
fields that provide water to 1.8 million
Hillsborough Commissioner Ed
Turanchik, chairman of West Coast, said
talks have started with IMC Agrico to use
See RESERVOIR, Page 3 >
RESERVOIR / Commissioners
praise plan to divert rivers
4 From Pge 1
anold pit as a reservoir site.
"If we had to go ahead and
build a reservoir, it would be cost
prohibitive. I don't think there's
anyplace except south Hillsbor-
ough for this," he said.
He said that water would allow
West Coast to reduce what is tak-
en from wellfields in Hillsborough
and Pasco, or even to shut down
the wellfields part of the year.
The three largest wellfields,
Cross Bar Ranch and Cypress
Creek in Pasco and Eldridge-Wilde
on the Hillsborough, Pinellas
boarder pump more than 60 mil-
lion gallons a day. I
The amount of water taken
would not affect Tampa's water
supply, which comes from the
Na Johnson over wer Issues and
he weMler. Ho can be nached at
ReaSd previous stories about
al w -related Issues at
NOVEMBER 18, 1997 i THE TIMES
Water idea promises a
? "'" .. ,
* The plan is simple:Take And.it could be available within the.
I Te s nnext five years.
river Water, store it in "I think this is an excellent project,"
phosphate pits in the rainy. .said Pasco Commissioner Ed Collinsa
seaso adseit ltera member of the West Coast board. "It's
season and use it later. almost too good to be true. What's the
By JEAN HELLER If the experts are right, there really
_ _..stm ,, : is' n't ohe.
S ," '" : The Me* is that after Tampa has taken
CLEARWATER The region's' prin ,the fresh water it needs from the Hillsbor-
cipal water supplier learned Monday that oughh River and the Tampa Bypass Canal,
there may be a way to develop a huge new .West Coast would take whatever amount
source of relatively cheap, no-cohtrover- still exceeded the minimum flow rates set
slal drinking water. for the two channels. West Coast would do
the same for the Alafia River in southern
The water would then be pumped to
the great subterranean caverns created by
phosphate mining in southeast Hillsbor-
ough County. When the water was needed
during the dry season in Plincllns. Pasco
and Hillsborough. it could then be
At the moment, the excess fresh water
is flowing into Tampa Bay.
"This has a lot of appeal for me. It's so
simple it almost defies belief," said Pinel-
las Commissioner Sieve Seibert. a nmem-
ber of the board of the West Coast Region-
al Water Supply Authority.
The plan could provide as much as
67-million gallons a (lay of new water,
nearly 80 percent of the 8S-million gallons
of new supplies West Coast hopes to have
on line by the year 2002.
"And when we get (Hillsborough's)
South-Cenlral (well field) hooked up to
the system. and Cone Ranch (a proposed
new well field in northwest Ilillsborough),
that gives us another 24-million gallons of
capacity a day," said West Coast General
Manager Jerry Maxwell. "Sixty-seven and
Please see WATER 4B
~_ n__ ;_(;__11~_X~ -.ll_-...-LI_-- *I I ._II-. ..-.. .I~L-.i.-. IU1-^Xlt~l^l _lli
Desalination plant proposals
should help crystallize issue
WOMKSVW E Proposals due this
week w give the first true picture on
the cost of buildi a desalnaton
pant, possy within three yeas.
at The Tamp TI m W
This week those who oppose the idea
of converting seawater into drinking wa-
ter and those who embrace itwil have
Ssme solid facts for their arguments.
Up to now, the discussions over desa-
Saktion on everything from its cost to
Sthe location of the plant hie been
That may end Wednesday when five
I proposals to build a demlination plant ar-
rie at the Clearwater offices of the
West Coast Regional Water Supply Au-
Within a week after that, Wet Coast
tbould be able to digest the complex pro-
poals enough to provide basic forma-
tio on technology the groups would use,
sic costs, possible site energy con-
,mption, permits needed and other de-
tails said Don Lndeman, project manag-
er for West Coast.
A ranking and evaluation of the pro-
posals should be ready by West Coast's
Jan. 26 meeting.
All five are expected to use reverse
osmosis to remove the salt. The water is
forced through fine membranes at high
pressure, leaving pre water and an ex-
tremely salty brine. .
There are a number of plants that use
the same process to convert brackish,
sightly salty water to fresh, but seawa-
ter is up to 10 times more salty and
more expensive to treat.
The plant contemplated by West
Coast would be the largest in the nation
and rival some desalination plants in the
Middle East, Lindemn said. The propos-
als wil cover a plant ranging from 20
million gallons a day to 50 million gal-
If West Coast decides to build the
plant, it could be operating in three
years, said Gene Schler, deputy execu-
tive director at the Southwest Florida
Water Management District, which may
pay part of the cost to build the desalina-
Thetime it takes to build the plant
would depend largely on how long it
takes to get permits, something the
builder can't control. Lindeman aid.
"They can hire extra welders to
speed it up, but they still have the pro-
cess to go through on permitting," Lin-
The state Department of Environ-
mental Prtection will have to issue a
permit for disposing of the salty byprod-
uct. Only about half the seawater taken
into the plant becomes freshwater. The
rest has to flow back out to the Gulf and
may be the key environmental concern.
See WATER, Page 3
SFrom Page 1
The largest desalination plant
in the ULS. is in Santa Barbara.
Calif., which can produce 6.7 mil-
lion gallons a day. That plant isn't
operating and is kept mostly as in-
surance against drought.
Even the smallest plant West
Coast is contemplating building
would be more than three times
that siee producing at least 20
million gallons a day.
A smaller plant in Key West is
being rebuilt and would be used
only if a storm cut off the island's
supply from the mainland.
There's a great deal of inter-
est from other parts of the coun-
try about this." said Schiller.
The groups submitting the pro-
posals ae alliances of energy com-
panies, technology and engineer-
ing firms from across the country
assembled for this project. Early
estimates put the cost at $200
"Everybody is telling us from
all sides that with the develop-
ment of membrane technology, we
be may be pleasantly surprised,"
Neo Jolmon cover water Istms md
the weather. He c be reached at
(352) 544 214.
Read previous stories about
water-related Issues at
htpj Ap//w. tamptficom/
TIMES U MONDAY, OCTOBER 27,1997
plant may be
By JOE NEWMAN
This is not crystal spring water. It's
salty and undrinkable and flows in abun-
dance underneath Pinellas County.
A proposed deal between Du Pont
and county commissioners calls for the
company to pump that brackish water
out of the ground, push it at high speed
through a synthetic membrane and then
deliver it fresh to your tap.
S Iif commissioners approve a 20-year
contract, Du Pont could have the desali-
nation plant built within 16 month, de
pending on how fast the Delaware com-
pany gets its environmental permits.
Commissioners will discuss the con-
tract Tuesday and will likely vote on it in
a few weeks.
The proposal calls for Du Pont to
build the $20-mifion plant on 5 acres at
the north entrance to Walsingham Park
south of Largo. The company, which
plans to use the facility to develop its
reverse-osmosis technology, will lease
the land from the county for a nominal
fee, probably $1 a year.
Please see DSAULNATION48
Irwma e- AM MOUFmC
Water rates are expctdto rise only
slightly for most households and may
drop for some-ifWest Coast Regional
Water Supply Authority is reorganized
into a utility that would supply water to
stations such as this one, Pinellas
SCounty's S.K.Keller treatment plant off
Q St. Petersburg Times, 1997
Du Pont could provide the
county 0-million gallons of drink.
ing water a day, about one-seventh
of the county's daily consumption.
The amount the company can pro-
duce will also be a part of nego-
tiations between the county and its
partners in the West Coast Region-
al Water Supply Authority.
Whatever the amount, it won't
come cheap. The contract cals for
the county to buy the water at
$1.85 a gallon, about 2% times
more than the cost of water from
the county's wel fields.
The cost .to consumers should
be minimal, said county Utilities
Director Pick Talley. The Du Pont
water wil be blended into the gen-
eral supply, meaning any cost in-
crease, probably about 5 percent,
will be spread to all users. Most
Pinellas cities other than St. Pe-
tersburg buy water from the coun-
For its part, Du Pont will open
research plant to the public as
Sof a tourist attraction for those
who can't get their fill of big loud
machines. The contract calls for a
"museum quality site."
In choosing a central location
for the plant, tourism was one con-
sideration; the other was finding a
place that was far enough away
from drinking-water wells used by
Clearwater and Dunedin, Talley
Theoretically, pumping brack-
ish water out of the ground will
draw more saltwater into the aqui-
fer, which could ruin any nearby
wels. Another concern is what will
happen to brine left over from the
Du Point is proposing to inject
the brine deep under the aquifer
but will need a permit from the
'Florida Department of Environ-
nmetal Protection. Talley said he
doei't foresee any problems.
The Du Pont plant fits into the
county's oqal of reducing its reli-
ance on grndwater, which rises
and falls a riding to how much
rain the region\ets.
The Southwest loda Water
Management District, or Swift-
mud, which regulates the region's
water consumption, is a strong sup-
porter of desalination, said district
spokesman Mike Molligan.
Swiftmud and the West Coast
Regional Water Supply Authority
are seeking proposals from compa-
nies for a desalination plant that
will produce up to five times more
drinking water than the one Du
Pont hopes to build. Proposals are
expected to be in by the beginning
of December, Molligan said.
West Coast decided to seek bids
for the project after Florida Power
last year proposed to build a desali-
nation plant on the Anclote River
near its power plant.
A difference is that the West
Coast-Swiftmud proposal is for a
plant that will convert sea water
into drinking water. Sea water has
about 40,000 milligrams of salt per
liter. The brackish water that Du
Pent would pump has about 2,000
milligrams per liter.
0 St. Petersburg Times, 1997
Deal on water
a Although no solid decision has been
made, a proposal now on the table
projects, at most, a small increase in the
bay area's household bills.
By JEAN HELLER
CLEARWATER With all the talk about
spending hundreds of millions of dollars to expand
the region's supply of freshwater, consumers could
S be forgiven for occasional nightmares about future
water bills larger than their mortgage payments.
Relax. It isn't going to happen.
At least not for the next 18 years.
If plans under discussion actually get off the
drawing board which seems moe likely today
than six months ago some residential water bills
might even go down. Those that go up should not
rise enough to wreak havoc on the family budget.
Nor should the projects move the needle on
taxes, although as much as 328-million of the
money that would go into new water resources and
new conservation efforts would come from the
Please e WATER 48
Ist T Ago'
Water from e
Southwest Florida Water Manage-
ment District and its river-basin
boards, which are funded by prop-
The reason big expenditures
would cause small ripples is purely
It has taken decades to bring
the region to the brink of water
peace because most of the people
who must structure the truce are
elected officials. They know they
cannot return to their city councils
and county commissions with plans
that would be financially painful for
their constituents, many of whom
live on fixed incomes.
Big increases in taxes and utili-
ty costs would be a sure-fire way
for the officials to impose term
limits on themselves.
"We don't anticipate any new
taxes," said Honey Rand, spokes-
woman for Swiftmud. "In 1992, the
district lowered taxes 22 percent.
In 1993, we raised taxes by 27
percent with the specific commit-
ment to set aside those funds to
help pay for alternative sources of
water. the money pool is already
The most likely scenario for the
reorganation of the West Coast'
Regional Water Supply Authority
into a public utility involves the
transfer of the ownership of nearly
all wells, pumping stations, pipe-
lines and water rights from the six
member governments to the new
cept i include a small well
in New Port Richey, Tampa's
rights to water in the Hisboroug
River and the Tampa Bypass Canal,
and SL Petersburg's interest in the
Weeki Wachee Springs in Hernan-
do County. In fact, no water re-
sources in Hernando or Citrus
counties would be involved, be-
cause they are not served by West
Rather than pay for the acquisi-
tions with cash, the new West
Coast would issue credits to each
member government, offsetting
the cost of buying water from the
utility. The size of the credits
would be based on the value of the
acquisitions. The credits would run
Instead of the current haphaz-
ard rate system that has cities and
S counties paying wildly, disparate
wholesale rates for water, every
jurisdiction would start out with the
same rate. But because the size of
the credits would differ, the rates
each jurisdiction would pay for the
30-year life of the credits also
For example, the members of
West Coast Hilisborough, Pinel-
las and Pasco counties and the cit-
ies of St. Petersburg, Tampa and
New Port Richey would begin
with rates of 81 cents per thousand
gallons of West Coast water in
1998. But the net wholesale price
after credits would be 79 cents for I
Hillsborough, 55 cents for Pinellas,
59 cents for Pasco, 31 cents for St.
Petersburg and 67 cents for New
Tampa, long self-sufficient in
drawing water from the Hillsbor-
ough River, does not expect to
need water from West Coast in the
near future, so its rates would not
Based on a household's average
use of 6,300 gallons of water a
month, Hillsborough is the only
jurisdiction that would experience
Rate decreases, although the coun-
ty would continue to have the high-
est water prices in the region.
Hillsborough residents pay, on
average, $20.71 a month for water
delivered from the West Coast sys-
tem. Under the reorganization,
that portion of their water bill
would fall to $19.29 in 1988, a
savings of $1.42 a month.
Next year, in Pinellas County,
the West Coast share of an average
bill would rise by 3 cents. It would
rise by 2 cents in Pasco, by 32
cents in New Port Richey and by 43
cents in St Petersburg.
Over the next 18 years, St.
Petersburg would experience the
largest increase in rates, $1.62
over current average monthly
household bills in the year 2010. In
Fact, the peak increase for all co-
sumers would be in 2010, when
'West Coast would experience the
highest costs in the first phase of
the development of new water re-
Ssources. After 2010, rates would
begin to fall, at least until Phase 2
of development got under way.
What happens ifter 2015 would
depend on what new water re-
sources West Coast developed. De-
salination is expensive. A capital
project involving a large facility
probably would raise water rates
more than tapping and storing ex-
cess water from the Hillsborough
River during rainy seasons and.
storing it for use in dry seasons.
Even if the West Coast reorga-
nization is approved next year,
these rates could change.
"There are all.sorts of factors
that could alter the bottom line,"
said Koni Manley, West Coast
comptroller. "New capital projects
could make water more expensive.
We haven't figured in inflationary
factors. On the other hand, reduced
litigation could have an impact on
water bills in some jurisdictions."
Also key is that West Coast
would not be the sole water suppli-
er in some ju-
have no effect
on otber com-
panents in wa-
ter blls, or n
One of the co-
Fischer nundrums cer-
tain to be no-
ticed by critics of the West Coast
reorganization is that St. Peters-
Sbur, by virtue of its extensive well
fi Sholdngs, would get the largest
credits but also take the biggest hit
on water rates.
L The explanation, said utilities
director Bill Johnson, is that be-
cause the city has no debt on its:
own facilitie, it can operate them
at very low cost. Once those facili-
ties are owned by West Coast, St.
Petersburg will have to pay West
Coast's rate, which is substantially
Several weeks ago, fellow West
Coast board members we pra-
Sing St. Petersburg May r David.
Fischer's leadership in trying to
reach a water agreement despite
Sthe impact on his city's water rates. I
Replied Fischer. "It's the right
time to do the right thing for the
in water rates
'What consumers can expect to
pay using 6,300 gallons of water
C current monthly retail
residence rate under West
New Port Richey
| St Petersburg
Source: KPMG Peat Marwick Time awt
SSt. PetersburgTlmes. 1997