Reclaimed water expanding along the Bayshore in Tampa

In a press release, Buckhorn said, “Before the passage of HB 639 last week, we had no certainty that the reclaimed water Tampa’s taxpayers paid to produce would not be unilaterally redirected, but now, we know we can expand our reclaimed infrastructure without concern."

Initially some environmentalists had issues with the legislation, saying that it would shift control of reclaimed water away from the state's water management districts. The fear was that local governments and utility companies would be tempted to sell the water to the highest bidder rather than distribute it for the good of the people in the state. The bill was then changed to forbid the water management districts from forcing those cities and utilities to give away water they pay to treat.

Buckhorn thanked Young for pushing his interests to get the bill passed in Tallahassee.

The expansion will occur along Bayshore Boulevard, connecting homes from Rome to Howard avenues and will also be used to irrigate public parkways along Bayshore.

The estimated cost to do the project is $600,000. Nearly half of that ($291,000) will come from a grant from the EPA. Construction will begin sometime this fall.

The city of Tampa dumps loads of of highly treated sewer water into Tampa Bay — approximately 55 million gallons' worth. A decade ago the city began allowing residents in South Tampa the opportunity to purchase reclaimed water to use for irrigation purposes.

Elected officials in other parts of the city, such as New Tampa, have decried the fact that they can't access that water for homes in that area, but the costs are prohibitive.

But Tampa is finally expanding its availability — and Mayor Bob Buckhorn is crediting the passage of a new state law in being able to do so. Though the expansion still only affects South Tampa, it bodes well for wider usage in the rest of the city in the future.

Last week the Legislature passed HB 639, a measure sponsored by House Republican Dana Young.

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