Tampa Bay Water's board of directors approved the $135 million agreement, one of the largest water treatment DBO contracts in the United States and an essential component of Tampa Bay Water's plan to meet the region's need for new water supplies. The contract includes approximately $79 million in capital costs and $56 million in operation and maintenance fees over the initial 15-year term and a five year option period. The new water treatment plant will treat water at a rate of 53.9 cents per gallon, significantly lower than earlier estimates. The agency will own and finance the facility. "We're pleased with the way negotiations progressed and are ready to begin the project delivery," said Charles Carden, Tampa Bay Water project manager and lead negotiator. "Besides having the most complete proposal and the best technical solution, the USFilter team's proposal represented a good value. Our member governments and their customers are assured an even better value than originally anticipated, as the contract provides higher guaranteed water quality and several project enhancements at a lower price than specified in the original proposal." The team includes some of the biggest national and international names in water treatment plant design, technology, construction and service, as well as a strong local presence. USFilter's design, construction and operations expertise are teamed with Camp Dresser & McKee's design power and Clark Construction's specialty in design-build projects. "We commend Tampa Bay Water on its procurement process that steered away from politics and asked potential partners to get straight to the technical fundamentals of the project," said Mike Stark, executive vice president and general manager of USFilter Operating Services. "This enabled all companies to put their full energy toward providing creative solutions and alternative designs that offer additional cost savings and long-term value." The facility will treat water from the Hillsborough and Alafia rivers and Tampa Bypass Canal to standards that exceed the current EPA Safe Drinking Water Act requirements for potable water. A large-scale pilot testing program USFilter executed at the Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant demonstrated that the Actiflo technology offered better finished water quality, improved process reliability, reduced treatment costs and reduced space requirements over the conventional flocculation-sedimentation design specified in the base bid requirements. The DBO contract is a relatively new form of public/private partnership in the water industry. The approach takes advantage of recently permitted long-term relationships between public utility owners and private service vendors. A DBO project challenges the traditional procurement approach by focusing on risk management and project performance, resulting in the owner contracting with a single, unified design, construction and operations team. Water agencies like the approach because of the potential for saving 10 to 20 percent of construction costs and 20 to 40 percent of operating costs. Carden says that Tampa Bay Water estimates their total project savings to be 21 percent or approximately $85 million over the 20-year life cycle of the project. The water treatment plant is the key to Tampa Bay Water's Master Water Plan, which will develop 53 million gallons per day (mgd) by 2003 and an additional 58 mgd by 2008. The facility is scheduled to begin treating water by December 2002 and will provide water to the utilities of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties including the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa.