Florida’s dry season is typically October through June. Often, during these months, as river flows reduce, Tampa Bay Water keeps its Surface Water Treatment Plant running with water from the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir.
This dry season, however, hasn’t been as dry as expected. In November 2020, the region saw nearly three times its average rainfall, and February brought above-average rainfall — nearly a half-inch above average. This substantial rainfall led to above-normal river flows in both the Hillsborough and Alafia rivers, allowing Tampa Bay Water to keep the surface water plant running without using reservoir water.
Groundwater levels in February 2021 were generally 0.3 foot higher than February 2020, and average water levels in lakes and wetlands on or near the Consolidated Permit wellfields increased 1.5 inches during February 2021. At the end of February 2021, the reservoir was nearly full, at 15.2 billion gallons of water.
Still, the dry season is not over yet. Now through mid-June the region should expect lower-than-normal rainfall and higher-than-normal temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We don’t anticipate any issues providing water to our member governments, even with lower rainfall and higher temperatures,” said Chuck Carden, interim general manager. “The reservoir is full, and in the event of a drought, we will follow our Water Shortage Mitigation Plan to ensure we meet demand in a sustainable way.”
Since the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2020, Tampa Bay Water has delivered an average of 177.89 million gallons of water per day to meet member governments’ demands, tracking nearly the same amount for the same period last year.