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Tampa City Council to explore PURE project options and what to do with wastewater dumped in the bay

Fifty million gallons of daily wastewater discharge could be sold or placed in the potable water supply.

Tampa’s water supply has two major issues. First, a new state law says the city has 10 years to find somewhere other than the bay to dump 50 million gallons of wastewater a day. On top of that, water levels are dangerously close to being unsustainable, according to city staff.

Enter the city’s controversial Purify Usable Resources for the Environment, or PURE, project.

“This will be one of the largest sustainability and resilience projects the city has undertaken,” Tampa’s Sustainability and Resilience Officer Whit Remer said, “and the most impactful for our water quality in the last 40 years.”

But as Deputy Administrator for Infrastructure Brad Baird tells it, PURE is more of a conceptual process than a solid plan right now. But on Thursday, the City Council will hold a series of votes to move the PURE Project forward.

The votes would allow the city to start the process of exploring two options. One would treat the city’s 50 million gallon per day discharge of wastewater to exceed drinking standards. Some of it would be sold to regional partners like Tampa Bay Water and some would be put in a deep injection well.