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Tampa Bay, Veolia offer twist on smart water management (Water Wednesday)

Tampa Bay, Veolia offer twist on smart water management (Water Wednesday)

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When seeking long-term solutions to water management, the Florida utility serving Tampa Bay opted to let a private-sector partner build and operate its treatment facility.

Contributor’s Note: This is an ongoing column in water sustainability, consumption and management issues. The rationale is simple: water is a more urgent priority for corporate social responsibility programs and becoming more so every day.

You have doubtless heard of energy savings performance contracts, long-term arrangements in which a services partner will take on the expense of building and operating technologies that save on electricity consumption. The contracts are paid over time, which helps organizations or communities save on upfront fees.

That's essentially the structure of a long-term relationship between Tampa Bay Water and Veolia Water North America. More than 10 years ago, Tampa Bay Water chose Veolia Water to design, build and operate (DBO) a publicly owned water facility for the Florida region, which faced challenges related to its limited groundwater supply and fast-growing population. Together, the two created a master plan setting certain guarantees for water quality, quantity and maintenance guidelines. The resulting system pretty much blows away all the original targets that were set, according to the utility and Veolia Water.

I haven't heard about this sort of contract covering water management technologies, until now, but it makes sense that this would also be an approach that municipal governments would take in order to upgrade infrastructure without relying too heavily on taxpayer money.

The resulting plant, which can treat up to 120 million gallons per day, was originally expected to cost the region up to $200 million but the partners report that it actually can in about $80 million underneath that projection. The plant expanded Tampa Bay Water's supply resources by clarifying and treating water from area rivers and a canal.

The Tampa Bay Water Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant uses water from the Alafia River, Tampa Bypass Canal, Hillsborough River and C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. The treatment technologies in the plant include a series of processes: ballasted flocculation, ozonation, filtration through granular activated carbon gravity filters, and solids processing.

Said Jerry Seeber, general manager of Tampa Bay Water:

"We're delighted that our partnership completed the new Tampa Bay Water Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant on time and under budget. This new facility is the backbone of our regional water service to more than 2.4 million people. By every measure, whether water quality, cost or service, this project is a success."

In the first phase alone, the utility saved $80 million over what was expected, according to the partners.

The system shares the distinction of being the largest DBO water project in the United States, along with the 120-million-gallons-per-day Tolt Treatment Facility in Seattle, created by Azurix CDM.

The video below walks you through the Tampa Bay project:

Past Water Wednesday posts:

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure