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Innovative reclaimed water project is now operating at Polk Power Station

Tampa Electric, Southwest Florida Water Management District and the city of Lakeland join forces to provide significant environmental benefits and to help protect groundwater supplies

TAMPA, April 9, 2015

Tampa Electric and its partners have begun full operation of an innovative reclaimed-water system to cool the Polk Power Station – and to benefit the environment.

After five years of construction, the $120 million Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Partnership Initiative officially entered into service in March. The project will allow Tampa Electric to collect reclaimed water from the city of Lakeland, treat it and use it for cooling water at the Polk Power Station.

“This public-private partnership is on the leading edge of innovative water use,” said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric. “It has far-reaching water-resource benefits that will be seen in Tampa Bay for multiple generations.”

The project includes a reclaimed-water pumping station and 15-mile pipeline between the city of Lakeland's wetland treatment system, east of Mulberry, and Tampa Electric's Polk Power Station. The project also includes a water-treatment system and two deep-injection wells – more than 1.5 miles underground – on Polk Power Station property.

This project will:

  • Minimize any future withdrawals of groundwater to cool Polk Power Station.
  • Clean up Tampa Bay by diverting treated wastewater previously discharged by the city of Lakeland. This will remove nitrogen from the water of Hillsborough and Tampa bays, which will help improve the sea grasses and populations of small fish, crabs and oysters.
  • Give the city of Lakeland greater capacity to use additional groundwater for drinking as the city grows.

Because of the combination of environmental benefits, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) agreed to partially fund the project by investing about $45 million.

For many years, Lakeland discharged its excess wastewater into the Alafia River, which feeds into Tampa Bay. Through a 30-year agreement, Lakeland will instead provide about 5 million gallons per day of reclaimed water to the Polk Power Station, with the ability to expand to 17 million gallons a day. Water will be provided from Lakeland at no cost for at least the first 20 years.

“The city of Lakeland considers this project to be a unique endeavor between three atypical partners. From the very beginning, we anticipated it was a ‘win’ for all three of us. It has worked out to exceed even those very positive expectations,” said Robert Conner, director of Lakeland Water Utilities. “Tampa Electric has been very good to work with. The city has been kept informed throughout the project and has been allowed to offer input where appropriate. As the project transitions from construction to operation, we see no reason this positive working relationship cannot continue. We look forward both of our utilities achieving our economic goals in an environmentally responsible manner.”

A future phase of the project will include reclaimed water from Polk County and the city of Mulberry. That phase is scheduled to be complete in 2017.

Tampa Electric , one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, is part of the TECO Energy family of companies. Tampa Electric serves more than 700,000 customers in West Central Florida. TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE) is an energy-related holding company with regulated electric and gas utilities in Florida and New Mexico, including Tampa Electric , Peoples Gas System and New Mexico Gas Co . Other TECO Energy subsidiaries include TECO Coal , which owns and operates coal-production facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

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