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Tampa launches pilot water improvement program with high hopes

The $1.9 million year-long pilot study will feature a water purification process, the first of its kind in the United States.

TAMPA — Dr. Jacimaria Batista is an expert on water, particularly municipal water systems.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas civil and environmental engineering professor reviewed Tampa’s design report for a $1.9 million year-long pilot study on suspended ion exchange — a water treatment process in which resins bind to impurities to remove them from water.

Her immediate reaction was the academically — and courteous — equivalent of “yuck”.

Tampa’s water as it comes out of the tap now, mostly originating in the Hillsborough River, wasn’t going to win any appearance awards.

“Your water quality is pretty bad. You have a lot of color,” Batista said, by way of explaining why Florida’s third-largest city might end up spending between $95 million and $130 million on a cutting-edge technology that hasn’t been used in the United States.