The City of Clearwater is a step closer to producing almost all of its own water supply with the ground breaking of another reverse osmosis facility.
District Governing Board member Todd Pressman joined city leaders this week at the ground breaking ceremony for the city’s second reverse osmosis water treatment plant. The new facility will treat up to 6.25 million gallons per day of brackish water using state-of-the-art technology to produce additional drinking water for Clearwater customers.
Reverse osmosis is a water treatment process that purifies water by removing dissolved particles, minerals and ions. Reverse osmosis is most commonly known for its use in drinking water purification from saline waters such as brackish groundwater or seawater. The process removes salt and other materials from the water, resulting in high quality drinking water.
This $34-million project was possible through the District’s Cooperative Funding Initiative, where the District provided $15 million.
The City of Clearwater’s first reverse osmosis facility went online in 2003. It was the second public supply reverse osmosis system in Pinellas, following the City of Dunedin’s facility in 1992.
Pressman noted the reverse osmosis plants including new ones in Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs will have a big impact on the water supply.
“These three new facilities will have the capacity to produce 26 million gallons of water per day,” he said. “That’s more than the Tampa Bay desalination facility.”
Withdrawals from the regional wellfields were causing adverse impacts to lakes and wetlands. So in 1991, the District established the Northern Tampa Bay Water Use Caution Area and adopted new rules for water use in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
In 1997, the Florida Legislature passed laws for the water management districts to develop regional water supply plans for areas where water sources were determined to be inadequate to meet future demand. The District’s 2001 regional water supply plan first identified brackish reverse osmosis treatment as an alternative source for this region.
Clearwater Public Utilities currently produces an average of 5.9 million gallons per day of its own water and purchases about 5 million gallons per day from Pinellas County Utilities. Once the new plant is online, it is anticipated that Clearwater will produce nearly all of the water city residents and businesses consume.
“For decades to come, this new water plant will serve the needs of the city’s water customer by providing them with high quality drinking water,” says Tracy Mercer, Public Utilities Director. “We are appreciative of the support of our citizens and our customers.”
Construction on the plant is expected to be completed in December 2014.