South Hillsborough Wellfield via Aquifer Recharge Credits - Tampa Bay Water

South Hillsborough Wellfield via Aquifer Recharge Credits

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.

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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.

South Hillsborough Wellfield via Aquifer Recharge Credits Details

The proposed 6.15-million-gallon per day (mgd) groundwater wellfield will require:

  • Hillsborough County to continuously operate SHARP at 10 mgd to generate withdrawal credits of approximately 6.15 mgd that may be purchased by Tampa Bay Water.
  • Eight new production wells, piping, water treatment facilities, a storage tank and pumping facilities to be be located on Hillsborough County-owned land near the intersection of Balm and Balm Riverview roads. If built, this project could potentially be expanded to 9 mgd in the future.
Aquifer recharge can increase water levels so fresh groundwater can be withdrawn and treated to high-quality drinking water standards in an environmentally sound manner. Because groundwater naturally flows westward to the Gulf of Mexico, no reclaimed water that’s injected into a SHARP well will make its way upstream to a withdrawal well.

Aquifer Performance Test Results

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:

  • The aquifer is very productive in this area with high-quality water; hydrogen sulfide removal will be required.
  • A 250-foot confining layer separates the shallow aquifer from the deep aquifer, so withdrawals from the deep aquifer will not affect surface water features, like lakes, wetlands, springs and rivers.
  • Drawdown was minimal and localized (about 3 feet in the Upper Floridan Aquifer in the center of the pumping). Water levels in this area normally fluctuate 15-20 feet; minimal drawdown is not expected to impact existing legal users.
  • No contamination sites have been identified in the vicinity of the project.

Public Outreach

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.

Virtual Community Meeting Recording August 24, 2021

Tampa Bay Water held a virtual community meeting on August 24, 2021. The video recording of the meeting is below.

Learn more about this option below.

Balm Civic Association Meeting January 26, 2022

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.

Long-term Master Water Plan

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

Fast Facts:

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