Editorial: Plant must be proven safe

Plans for a desalination plant were approved Wednesday. Though experts say the plant will protect the environment, concerns about increasing the bay’s salt levels should be weighed seriously as the project continues to ensure marine life is preserved.

The projected plant is expected to process nearly 25 million gallons of freshwater a day once completed. The $110 million facility has come under fire in the past by representatives of Save Our Bays and Canals. This group argued in August that a desalination plant in the bay would increase the amount of oxygen and salt levels, thereby adversely affecting the surrounding marine life.

However, Tampa Bay Desal has assured both opponents and proponents that the plant will be safe and meet current surface water standards to protect aquatic bay life. With salt levels still not at ideal levels, the desalination plant may counteract the process of the bay’s recuperation.

Water supply has been a growing concern around the state as rivers and aquifer levels are depleting. Lower than average rainfall during the past years has also contributed to a shortfall in water supplies. Something must be done to provide more water, but the desalination plant may not be the best solution yet.

Locals should continue conserving water, and water restrictions should be maintained so that water levels, once stable, are not constantly fluctuating. Limiting current water use when watering lawns and washing cars helps if everyone does it across the state.

The desalination plant is a good idea but should start construction only once a saline level and full environmental impact study is conducted and shows the bay to be stable enough to handle the amount of salt and oxygen being pumped into it.