Partnering for a sustainable future
With the Polk Power Station expansion, the plant will play a vital role in the future of our generation fleet. Currently, the plant requires about 3 million gallons of groundwater daily to cool its five units. Once the $700 million expansion is complete in 2017, more water will be needed. Tampa Electric sought a unique approach to securing additional supplies of water while protecting the Floridan Aquifer – we engaged with multiple stakeholders to find a solution: the Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Partnership.
This innovative public-private partnership allows us to collect reclaimed water from the city of Lakeland – including the City of Mulberry and Polk County – now and others later. After treatment that includes rapid clarification and reverse osmosis filtration, there are two water streams. The clean water – nearly drinking-water quality – goes into the plant’s cooling reservoir and is used to cool the plant. The disposal stream is concentrated with impurities and is sent more than 1.5 miles underground via two underground wastewater injection wells – underneath a 1,000-foot-thick layer of impervious limestone, ensuring the disposal stream does not reach the Floridan Aquifer. Our injection wells were the first wells permitted and dug in Central Florida since the 1970s and significantly contributed to the understanding of Florida’s geology in the region.
The $120-million water project, which came online in March, is a cooperative partnership between Tampa Electric and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, who are jointly funding it, and the cities of Lakeland and Mulberry and Polk County.
Benefits of the reclaimed water project include:
- Helping to clean Tampa Bay by diverting previously discharged nitrogen-heavy wastewater, causing sea grasses to be healthier and populations of small fish, crabs and oysters to flourish.
- Minimizing future groundwater withdrawals to cool our Polk Power Station.
- The cities of Lakeland and Mulberry and Polk County the flexibility to manage their water resources.
- Providing water resources for our Polk Power Station in a future where water is becoming a scarcer commodity.
Initially, the system is transporting and treating 5 million gallons of reclaimed water a day, with the ability expand to 17 million gallons per day.