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Tampa's 'Toilet To Tap' Project Flushed From Budget

City of Tampa reservoir
Southwest Florida Water Management District
Treated water would be pumped back into Tampa's reservoir on the Hillsborough River.

It looks like "Toilet to Tap" is officially kaput.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Thursday removed a request for $300 million that would have funded the program in her public works budget.

The project -- officially called the Tampa Augmentation Project -- would take treated wastewater that now flows into Tampa Bay and pump it into the underground aquifer. It would then be re-pumped into the city's reservoir before being treated again as drinking water.

TAP banner
Credit City of Tampa

The plan has come under fire from the regional water supply authority,  in part because of concerns about its impact to the environment. Some members of Tampa Bay Water said allowing Tampa to become self-sufficient could undermine the agreement tying together the water supplies of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

In August, Tampa Bay Water chairwoman and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said the region was "teetering on the edge of water war."

Tampa officials said the plan would eliminate discharges of treated wastewater into Tampa Bay, and add to the region's drinking water supply. But some Tampa Bay Water board members said the plan would allow Tampa to become self-sufficient.

The proposed $350 million Tampa Augmentation Project (TAP) would supply 50 million gallons of drinking water a day.

It was a pet project of former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, but has been opposed by several city council members. Castor's withdrawal came hours before the council was scheduled to vote on a major plan to replace the city's aging underground water and sewer system.

Here's a graphic from the city of Tampa on how the TAP project would work:

Toilet to Tap
Credit City of Tampa
This graphic from the City of Tampa explains how the aquifer replenishment project would work


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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