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Tampa Water Department planning to implement innovative new water purification process

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Six Pilot Project
The SIX Pilot Project just concluded at Tippin Water Treatment Facility in Tampa and will be implemented on a large scale by 2027.

The Tampa Water Department has just completed an innovative pilot project that when constructed on a full scale will produce cleaner water, purified with fewer chemicals and save nearly $4M in annual costs.

Suspended Ion Exchange (SIX) is an innovative technology that is designed to provide a safe, cost-effective way to remove Total Organic Carbon (TOC) from our water sources.

The technology was developed in the Netherlands and has been successfully implemented in water treatment facilities around the world. It offers a cost-effective solution to safely and reliably produce high-quality drinking water while reducing both the type and quantities of chemicals used in the treatment process.

Tampa's main water source is the Hillsborough River and it's purified into drinking water at the Tippin Water Treatment Facility in Tampa, which is a surface water plant. 

Suspended Ion Exchange works by mixing a resin compound with the raw water from the Hillsborough River as the first part of the water treatment process. The ions in the resin help remove total organic carbon and alkalinity.

"By doing this as one of the very first steps of the purification process, it makes the whole water treatment process more efficient," said Larry Elliot of Carollo Engineering at Tippin. "We've seen a reduction in disinfection byproducts, reduction in color and improved Chloramine stability."

Dr. Melanie Pickett, a pilot engineer from Carollo Engineering at Tippin, has overseen the SIX Pilot Project from start to finish. She said there are other benefits to using SIX as a way to turn raw water into drinking water.

"We've seen a reduction in disinfection byproducts, a reduction in color and improved Chloramine stability," Pickett said. "People may also notice a better tasting water. Overall, we end up with a much cleaner water for the rest of the downstream processes at Tippin."

Chuck Weber, director of the Tampa Water Department, was thrilled with the findings of Tampa's pilot program.

"Our SIX pilot project here in Tampa confirmed that we can reduce our annual operational cost as much as $4M and improve our already excellent water quality at the same time," Weber said. "We're also proud that the SIX Pilot Project is the largest installation of its kind in the world and the only one in the United States."

The City of Tampa now has plans to implement the SIX process on a full-scale at the Tippin Water Treatment Facility. The full-size project will take up about an acre and a half of land that now sits empty.

Tippin Rendering
Rendering of location where SIX will be constructed at Tippin Water Treatment Facility

While the SIX Pilot Project could purify around 50,000 gallons per day, the full-scale installation of SIX will purify 140-million gallons per day. 

This $100M project is fully funded by Mayor Jane Castor's PIPES program and water department leaders said water bills will not go up as a result of SIX.

The City of Tampa will enter the design phase of this project in early 2022 and will have it constructed by 2026-2027.