News Release

Innovative reclaimed water project is “essentially complete” at Polk Plant

Second phase extends pipe to Polk County and Mulberry, provides significant environmental benefits

TAMPA, December 20, 2017

By connecting to Polk County and the city of Mulberry, Tampa Electric has essentially completed the second and final phase of its award-winning reclaimed-water system to cool the Polk Power Station – and to benefit the environment.

Since 2015, Tampa Electric has collected reclaimed water from the city of Lakeland, treated it and used it for cooling water at the Polk Power Station through this innovative system. With the completion of phase 2, reclaimed water from Polk County and the city of Mulberry also will help to cool the plant.

In total, the cities and county will provide about 7 million gallons a day of reclaimed water to the Polk Power Station through more than 20 miles of pipe, with the ability to expand to 17 million gallons a day.

This project:

  • Minimizes future withdrawals of groundwater to cool Polk Power Station.
  • Cleans up Tampa Bay by diverting treated wastewater previously discharged by Polk County and the city of Mulberry. 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.
  • Gives Polk County and the city of Mulberry greater capacity to use additional groundwater for drinking as their communities grow.

A portion of the $9 million expansion of the Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Partnership Initiative began operating this month. Final touches on the project will be complete in January. Because of the combination of environmental benefits, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) partially funded the project.

“This public-private partnership is an excellent example of innovative water use,” said Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. “It has far-reaching benefits that will be seen in Tampa Bay for multiple generations.”

The project, which was awarded the 2015 Edison Award by the Edison Electric Institute, added a reclaimed-water pumping station and 2-mile pipeline between the city of Mulberry and the existing reclaimed water line from the city of Lakeland. The project also includes a 3.5-mile pipeline between Polk County’s water treatment facility and the city of Lakeland’s wetlands treatment system, where the existing pump station will bring the water to the Polk Power Station, along with a metering and regulating station.

For many years, Polk County and Mulberry discharged their excess wastewater into the Alafia River, which feeds into Tampa Bay. Through 30-year agreements, Polk County will provide about 1 million gallons per day – and Mulberry will provide about a half-million gallons per day – of reclaimed water to the Polk Power Station. Tampa Electric has installed a large water treatment system to make the reclaimed water suitable for use in the power plant. Water will be provided at no cost for at least the first 20 years.

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 750,000 customers in West Central Florida. Tampa Electric is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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