Monday, January 28, 2008

Jersey company helps save FL desalination plant

The Tampa Bay Water Desalination Plant, the largest facility of its kind in the nation, had its second grand opening Friday, Jan. 25, in Tampa, Florida.

It's first took place in 2003, but early design problems led to clogging of the plant's reverse-osmosis membranes that were supposed to strain salt from bay water to make drinking water. Developer bankruptcies followed and the plant was closed within two years.

The New Jersey-headquartered American Water, through its joint-venture subsidiary American Water-Pridesa, was contracted to fix the problem. The solution came primarily through the addition of pretreatment techniques similar to those employed to remove sediment from river and lake water used as potable sources. The company will continue to operate the plant under an 18-year agreement.

The desalination plant is expected to cover at least 10 percent of the drinking water needs of the more than 2.4 million people in the Tampa Bay area and it has built-in expansion capacity which may come in handy if the area's drought conditions, which stretch back to 2006, persist or worsen.

The 25-million-gallon-per-day facility, originally expected to cost $110 million, topped out at $158 million. That amount could have been far higher had the plant not been co-located with with Tampa Electric's Big Bend power plant. The newly refurbished plant uses warm water from Tampa Electric, which has already gone through the power plant's condensers, so it takes less energy to desalt it.

For more on the project, check out:
Desalination Plant Has Formal Opening Ceremony
Tampa Bay desalination plant rises again
New Water Plant To Improve Supply

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