It’s been more than a decade since Tampa Bay Water began tapping the Alafia River, Tampa Bypass Canal and Tampa Bay as regional drinking water sources. After 14+ years of operations and 272 billion gallons of water withdrawn, treated and consumed, we are pleased to report that our continual monitoring shows no adverse impacts associated with these withdrawals.
The results of our monitoring efforts are reviewed annually and are an important part of our operations. While today we know that these supplies are operating in an environmentally sound manner, in the late 1990s, some residents and environmental groups questioned whether surface water withdrawals would affect the river systems and the estuarine environment of Tampa Bay. Others expressed concerns about the return of the diluted concentrated seawater from the desalination process into Tampa Bay and whether salinity would increase as a result.
Environmental stewardship was, and remains, a cornerstone of new water supply development. Before the new projects were built, we conducted extensive ecological and water quality assessments, so that we had a good baseline against which we could measure future conditions. Once operations began for each new source alternative, we began extensive monitoring programs to measure any changes in those water bodies. Each year, these reports are compiled and peer reviewed. And each year has shown successful operations with no adverse impacts.
Our surface water withdrawals began more than 14 years ago and monitoring shows no adverse impacts. Additionally, the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Facility concentrate discharge has been monitored for more than 14 years and no adverse impacts have been observed. For both alternative water supplies, we’ll continue monitoring operations and take action should conditions change.