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Tampa Bay Water stands to get $31 million for reaching milestones at desal plant

After years of malfunctions, delays and repairs, Tampa Bay Water's desalination plant is consistently producing the freshwater it was designed to deliver, officials said Monday.

The plant, built next to Tampa Electric's Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach, was once notoriously bedeviled by problems: spotty performance, cost overruns, contractor bankruptcies and litigation galore.

Now it has hit two key milestones: It has pumped out an average of 20 million gallons of freshwater a day for 12 consecutive months. And it has averaged more than 25 million gallons of water a day for four consecutive months.

Tampa Bay Water stands to receive a total of $31.25 million from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. SWFWMD pledged $85 million plus interest to help build the plant but held back the money until the facility hit four key performance benchmarks...