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Tampa might share reclaimed water

Tampa could pump 10-million gallons of reclaimed water per day to the county. But pipe work costing $57-million would not be completed until 2007.

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 31, 2002

Tampa could pump 10-million gallons of reclaimed water per day to the county. But pipe work costing $57-million would not be completed until 2007.

WESLEY CHAPEL -- Pasco County is inching closer to a deal by which Tampa would pump 10-million gallons of reclaimed water each day to its northern neighbor.

But don't expect a flash flood of water to turn your lawn a lush green.

Tampa's reclaimed water wouldn't arrive in Pasco until about 2007, and the county's restrictions on lawn irrigation probably will continue indefinitely, including plans to install reclaimed water meters at homes.

"We're a long way from getting this system in," Assistant County Administrator Doug Bramlett said Thursday.

Pasco has set a tentative deadline of August to arrange "terms and conditions" under which it would cut a water deal with Tampa, Bramlett said. With the terms in place, the two governments would start negotiating a contract.

One possible complication: Hillsborough County officials have criticized Tampa's plan to leapfrog over them to give water to Pasco.

"We're trying to get to first base," Bramlett said.

In its discussions with Tampa, Pasco said it would pay $10-million to extend reclaimed water lines from New Tampa to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Wesley Chapel.

Tampa would pay the $47-million cost of bringing the line from south Tampa northwards. The city dumps about 50-million to 60-million gallons a day of its treated wastewater into Hillsborough Bay. But the region's demand for green lawns has made reclaimed water a valuable commodity.

Pasco would pay for half of the $10-million water line from its own budget, money that comes mostly from utility customers. For the other half, the county wants a $5-million grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

In addition to the cost of the pipeline, Pasco would pay Tampa a still-undetermined rate for the water itself.

About 5,000 Pasco customers, most in Wesley Chapel neighborhoods such as Meadow Pointe and Northwood, use reclaimed water on their lawns.

That demand should skyrocket as new neighborhoods, including about 3,000 homes in Seven Oaks west of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, come on line.

"The agreement with Tampa gives us more water we can distribute over a larger area," Bramlett said.

More reclaimed water is coming next year when the county interconnects its waste water treatment plants in west Pasco with those in central Pasco.

The combined system could deliver up to 10-million gallons a day to its customers in central Pasco, up from about 5-million gallons a day, the county said.

Nevertheless, Pasco expects to meter customers and start charging per-gallon rates for reclaimed water, albeit at lower rates than for potable water. That could happen as early as next year.

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