A Sustainable Water Alternative for Tampa

Because water is too precious to use just once.

Pure Logo

What is PURE?

The PURE (Purify Usable Resources for the Environment) Project is a proposed water recycling project.

Under PURE, the City will redirect up to 50 million gallons per day (MGD) of highly treated reclaimed water from the City’s Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant that would otherwise be discharged into Hillsborough Bay. The water will be purified to exceed federal and state drinking water standards and repurposed for beneficial use.

Securing a Sustainable Water Alternative for Tampa and Our Regional Partners

With PURE, the City is looking to address three critical challenges.

  1. Designing a sustainable, long-term solution for providing freshwater to maintain minimum flows on the Lower Hillsborough River. Minimum flows help sustain healthy habitats for fish and wildlife below the Hillsborough Dam, particularly during months with little to no rainfall and helps ensure the continued health of the river.  

  2. Securing Tampa’s drinking water source during droughts by increasing the reliability of the drinking water supply. Our region is not immune to a changing climate that is causing dramatic fluctuations in the availability of water and can exacerbate droughts. A prolonged drought (such as what happened in 2006-2009) would make it harder for both Tampa, and our regional partners, to meet the water supply needs of our customers.

  3. Complying with new state legislation that restricts discharges into Hillsborough Bay. In 2021, the Florida State Legislature passed new legislation, specifically Senate Bill 64, which requires that the discharge of reclaimed water into surface water bodies, such as Hillsborough Bay, be reduced or eliminated by no later than 2032.

How would PURE work?

After exploring a number of options, the City is currently evaluating two alternatives.

Project Options Under Consideration

  1. Discharge to the Lower Hillsborough River for Minimum Flow Levels and Selling the Reclaimed Water to Others (also known as Combination #2). Some of the water would be directed to the base of the Hillsborough Dam to meet minimum flow requirements. The remaining water would be sold to other entities and disposed of using deep-well injection.
  2. Aquifer Recharge and Recovery to the Hillsborough River Reservoir (also known as Combination #3). After treating reclaimed water to drinking water standards, the water would be added to the aquifer via a series of deep wells, 600 to 800 feet below ground. This would have the added benefit of creating a saltwater intrusion barrier to safeguard Sulphur Springs. The water would eventually be pumped out via a series of shallower wells and added to the Hillsborough River Reservoir. All wells would be located on public properties.