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Tampa will look into sending treated wastewater into the Hillsborough River

Tampa City Council members decided Thursday to go ahead with a plan to design a system that could pipe wastewater that is now dumped into Tampa Bay into the Hillsborough River instead.

Council members voted 6-1 to study the plan, which will come up for another vote in the fall. The study will cost $1.4 million.

Councilman Guido Maniscalco voted for the study.

"I think we should look at this, we should study it. Approve this moving forward today. But at the same time, ask the public what they think," he said. "We're getting the emails against it. Maybe we need to help people understand what is happening, what is going on, because it's something that will affect this generation, the next generation."

The city currently dumps about 55 million gallons of treated wastewater directly into Tampa Bay every day. Officials say the project is needed because a new state law takes effect in 2032, banning dumping wastewater into waterways.

The project is called PURE, which stands for Purify Usable Resources for the Environment."

The city's website describes the following options are currently under consideration:

  • Pumping water down into the aquifer, which is called recharging the aquifer, and withdrawing it during the dry season, also called recovery of the water.
  • Adding the water created during the PURE process to the Hillsborough River Reservoir.
  • Selling reclaimed water to another water utility.
  • Sending reclaimed water deep underground using deep well injection.
  • Treating reclaimed water to drinking water standards and adding it directly into the drinking water supply.