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Water-use estimates for ethanol plant go up 60 percent

Published March 9, 2007


TAMPA - An ethanol plant proposed for the city's port area could need up to 800,000 gallons of water a day by 2013, making it the second-largest water user in the city.

The request for the water to run the plant, which will need 400,000 gallons a day by 2010 for its first phase of operation, comes at a time when the city is at its limit for withdrawing fresh, cheap water from the Hillsborough River.

Initially, plant backers said it would require 500,000 gallons a day, but on Thursday, city officials confirmed it would be 60 percent higher if the plant fully expands.

Steve Daignault, the city's administrator of public works and utilities, told the Tampa City Council he is working to determine if the plant can use reclaimed water instead of fresh water.

Bradley Krohn, president of United States Envirofuels, the company looking to build the plant, said he is happy to use reclaimed water.

But he has asked city officials to give the company permission to buy reclaimed water from the county. It's cheaper than the city's reclaimed water, might be higher quality and it will be easier to lay pipes to the county's water treatment plant.

The city needs to approve the deal because although the plant is proposed for the county, it's in the city service area.

But Krohn said he will talk to city officials about what they might be able to offer.

Daignault said he believes the city could get the pipe built in three years.

Reclaimed water would be significantly less expensive for Krohn than freshwater, which costs more than $4 per 1,000 gallons. The county charges only 7 cents per 1,000 gallons for reclaimed water. The city charges $1.34 per 1,000 gallons of reclaimed water.

Daignault said the city has hired a consultant to identify potential industrial users of reclaimed water throughout the city. The city dumps more than 60-million gallons of treated wastewater each day into Tampa Bay. Piping that water to industrial users, or more residents, could help reduce the use of precious drinking water.

"We want to get the reclaimed water out there for them," Daignault said.

[Last modified March 9, 2007, 06:27:52]

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