Southern Hillsborough County is one of the fastest growing areas in the Tampa Bay region. It is also designated a Water Use Caution Area by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District). To address growing water needs in this area, the District has adopted the “net benefit” concept where any new withdrawal from the aquifer must be offset by another source and result in an additional positive effect within the same aquifer.
Using this approach, a new wellfield could be developed in southern Hillsborough County by purchasing aquifer recharge credits from Hillsborough County via its South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project (SHARP). SHARP involves pumping reclaimed water into a salty, coastal zone of the aquifer. Pilot studies show that the recharge water creates a mound that prevents saltwater intrusion into fresh groundwater. It also increases aquifer levels several miles inland from the recharge well location. This increase in groundwater levels enables freshwater withdrawals further inland to supply the area’s growing drinking water needs.
The proposed 6.15-million-gallon per day (mgd) groundwater wellfield will require:
In 2021, Tampa Bay Water performed a two-week aquifer performance test to obtain water quality, water level changes or drawdown, as well as water quantity data. Test results show:
Public input plays an important role in all Tampa Bay Water projects. Input on this project was provided via online surveys and public meetings.
Public input will be considered by Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors in selecting projects for future development.
Tampa Bay Water held a virtual community meeting on August 24, 2021. The video recording of the meeting is below.
Tampa Bay Water held a meeting with the Balm Civic Association on January 26, 2022, to discuss the South Hillsborough Wellfield Project. The following is the meeting summary.
This project is one of three top-ranked projects under further evaluation to meet the region’s drinking water needs in the 2028 timeframe. The potential projects are the culmination of five years of analysis though Tampa Bay Water’s Long-term Master Water Plan. This 20-year framework for meeting the region’s future drinking water needs includes analyses of future demand, conservation potential, supply reliability, water shortage mitigation planning and hydrologic uncertainty along with potential water supply projects to ensure adequate drinking water in the future. For more information, visit tampabaywater.org/future-drinkingwater-sources.
NEED: 10 million gallons per day by 2028
SOURCE: Floridan Aquifer
PROJECT YIELD: 6.15 - 9 million gallons per day
KEY POINTS: new groundwater via aquifer recharge credits; net benefit to aquifer; within high growth area