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Tampa‚Äôs ‘water wizard’ Dave Tippin dies at 82

He modernized the city’s water supply as the head of the department.

In the 1970s, residents of Tampa’s Davis Islands turned on their faucets and often found red liquid pouring out from the unlined cast iron pipes. Dave Tippin had a plan to fix it.

In 1977, for $129,000, the city’s water department director launched a plan to introduce a chemical that would reline the pipes over two years. The process would add 75 years to the 50-year-old pipes, the Tampa Times reported.

It was an approach Tippin took again and again — fix, preserve, plan ahead.

Twenty-six years later, in 2003, the Tampa Tribune reported “Tampa’s water wizard retires.”

“For nearly 30 years, a generation of Tampa residents has grown up drinking water Dave Tippin was in charge of producing. Most probably never thought about the water coming from their faucets, which is the way it should be.”

If you know Tippin’s name, it’s likely because of the building named after him — the David L. Tippin Water Treatment Facility. For 29 years, he led Tampa’s water department, helping transform the system that brings water to the city and the quality of the water itself.