From toilet to tap: Communities explain wastewater recycling plan

- It might sound crazy: Taking water you flush down your toilet and turning it into tap water you can drink. But after years of studying it, two Bay Area utilities are about ready to give it a try.

Clearwater Utilities director David Porter says the plan, called "groundwater replenishment," uses a three-step process to turn wastewater into better-than-bottled water.

“We’re building an entire new treatment plant that will take that water and bring it to better than drinking water standards before we inject into these drinking water aquifers below us,” Porter said.

The purified water then blends with natural water in the aquifer, improving water levels and reducing saltwater intrusion.

Construction of Clearwater’s purification plant is ready to begin. It will need environmental permits before it can pump the water into the aquifer.

Once those permits are approved, Clearwater would become the first city in Florida to turn wastewater in tap water.

And the city of Tampa isn't far behind. While its plan is called the Tampa Augmentation Project, it does pretty much the same thing.

Tampa publics works director Brad Baird says the it'll take about five to seven years to get it started in Tampa.

“The hydraulic modeling shows this project will refreshen the aquifer underneath Tampa, about a third of Tampa,” Baird said.

 In Clearwater, the purification plant will be completed in about two years.

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