More than 2.5 million people in the Tampa Bay region depend on Tampa Bay Water to provide clean, high-quality drinking water in an environmentally sound manner.
Balancing communities’ needs for water with the need to restore, protect and preserve our environment is exactly why Tampa Bay Water was founded in 1998 as the region’s sole and exclusive wholesale water supplier. Our more than 20 years of success is a testament to what local governments can do when we work together.
The year presented some unique challenges with COVID-19, remote work, one of the driest months on record, and a busy hurricane season, all of which required we be as resilient and adaptable as the water supply system we manage. In 2020 we successfully:
The board of directors also held two workshops in 2020 to focus on strategic water planning for the region.
As the population continues to grow in the Tampa Bay region, expanding and maintaining our infrastructure is critical to our success, as is the renewal of the Consolidated Water Use Permit.
We’re proud to present this 2020 Year in Review. Visit tampabaywater.org for more information on our agency and all our projects and programs.
Think of all the activities that require water. Healthcare, cooking, cleaning, bathing, manufacturing, fishing and recreation … life depends on water, and the Tampa Bay region depends on Tampa Bay Water.
As the region’s wholesale water supplier, our mission is to reliably provide clean, safe drinking water to our six member governments — Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa — now and for future generations.
We accomplish this with a dedicated professional staff and a nine-member board that sets regional water policy, so you can depend on the water delivered to your homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.
Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors of elected officials from our member governments work cooperatively to achieve this mission.
2020 Board of Directors
Tampa Bay Water offers a blend of groundwater, river water and desalinated seawater to deliver a reliable supply of clean, safe water to more than 2.5 million people in the region.
During Fiscal Water Year 2020 (Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020) Tampa Bay Water delivered an annual average of 184 million gallons per day (mgd) of water to our member governments, about 6.2 percent or 10.7 mgd higher than the previous fiscal year.
We used 8.37 billion gallons of water from the C.W Bill Young Regional Reservoir, the region’s water savings account, to supply water through this year’s especially dry season, which included one of the lowest rainfall months on record in Tampa Bay.
Health Depends on Water
Water plays an important role in protecting public health, a fact that was made abundantly clear during the coronavirus pandemic. Access to clean, safe water is critical to staying hydrated, keeping items clean, treating illness and taking the necessary precautions to limit the spread of disease.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Tampa Bay Water has taken extra precautions to ensure our employees are safe so that we can continuously provide clean water to the region.
We closely monitor and incorporate recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local agencies to keep residents and employees safe, including canceling all public tours of our water treatment plants, canceling all non-essential travel for employees, transitioning to teleworking for employees who could do so successfully, encouraging virtual meetings, providing masks and hand sanitizer at all locations, and building contingency plans to ensure our most essential personnel are available to maintain the utility’s 24/7 operations.
Life changed dramatically across the world, the nation and Tampa Bay since the outbreak of COVID-19, but one thing that remained the same is the safety of your drinking water.
Providing clean, safe drinking water is a priority at Tampa Bay Water. Our staff continually samples our water at several locations, including member government points of connection, to ensure it meets or is better than all state and federal drinking water standards.
We are working with our member governments to study potential changes to our wholesale quality water product. This is especially important because our six member utilities have water delivery systems of varying age, layout, pipe material and treatments, such as corrosion control, softening and fluoridation. We have to ensure that any potential improvements maintain stability in our members’ systems.
We know from studies of our system that lowering maximum levels of some water quality parameters would improve water quality for the region and provide more consistent quality at each point of connection. That’s why we’re working on identifying water quality options for the board to consider that will improve wholesale water quality.
We constantly monitor and study our water sources to identify potential water quality issues, such as contaminants of emerging concern including perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a variety of industries since the 1940s. They don’t break down and can accumulate over time in the environment and the human body. Tampa Bay Water preemptively filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of PFAS as an initial step to protect its members and rate payers from potential impacts of PFAS, such as water source contamination mitigation or water treatment expenses, should the presence of PFAS be found in Tampa Bay area drinking water sources. None of our drinking water sources are located near facilities known to produce or use PFAS, and no PFAS compounds were found during the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013-2015 study of Tampa Bay regional drinking water.
The Economy Depends on Water
Without water, our communities couldn’t grow and thrive. Restaurants, hotels, manufacturers, daycares, schools, hospitals, construction – every sector of our economy depends on reliable drinking water. Nowhere in the region is this more evident than in southern Hillsborough County, where population is booming, increasing the demand for more water.
In addition to renewing the South-Central Hillsborough Regional Wellfield Water Use Permit in May at the same quantity for another 20 years, Tampa Bay Water is addressing the needs in southern Hillsborough County in a three-pronged approach that includes one short-term project and two long-term projects.
In the short term, we’re building the Brandon Booster Station in southern Hillsborough County. Set to be operational in 2024, this booster station will bring 5-7 million gallons of water per day (mgd) from the existing regional wholesale system to Hillsborough County’s Lithia Water Treatment Plant.
We also have a new, 66-inch regional pipeline in the works to deliver up to 65 mgd from the Tampa Bay Water Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant and High Service Pump Station to the Lithia Water Treatment Plant. This pipeline is scheduled to be operational in 2028.
This year Tampa Bay Water enlisted Raftelis Financial Consultants to develop a reclaimed water pricing/credit model for the sale of a member government’s aquifer recharge credits, resulting from a reclaimed water project, for use in developing new regional ground water supplies.
Planning for the region’s water needs is an on-going process at Tampa Bay Water and includes more than building new supplies. Our long-term planning process includes analyses of future demand, conservation potential, supply reliability, water shortage mitigation planning and hydrologic uncertainty – all wrapped up in the Long-term Master Water Plan planning process.
To meet the region’s water needs, the Long-term Master Water Plan includes:
The three top-ranked new water supply projects in the Master Water Plan are:
We are conducting feasibility studies on the top-ranked projects and evaluating the feasibility of building a new wellfield, and associated water treatment plant. Each expansion is projected to yield between 7.5-10 mgd of water.
Our system decisions support team keeps close tabs on regional growth by analyzing water use, multiple socio-economic factors and population growth to create an annual demand forecast and to help us with short- and long-term planning. We also work closely with local, state and national partners, such as the Water Utility Climate Alliance, Florida Water and Climate Alliance and the Climate Science Advisory Panel of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, to study the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on public water supplies.
Tampa Bay Water is currently working with Cornell University and the University of North Carolina to create a demand-supply-finance nexus tool to help identify the timing of when new supply sources should be online as demand for water in the region increases. The tool combines yield and reliability analysis with a full financial module, allowing decision-makers to look at different future scenarios of projects and their implications on the uniform water rate.
We are constantly updating our infrastructure so our member governments can depend on us to provide high-quality drinking water. In 2020, we planned and updated our Capital Improvements Program, a 10-year plan that includes 90 projects in several phases, in addition to completing the design or construction of several other projects.
The City of Tampa mainly sources its own water from the Hillsborough River, augmenting its supply from our regional system when needed. Since Tampa Bay Water and the City of Tampa share some of the same water sources, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District is responsible for flood protection and preserving water resources in our region, we all have a vested interest in how those waters are used.
This year, the agency, city and district completed a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Hillsborough River, Tampa Bypass Canal, Sulphur Springs and Morris Bridge Wellfield, acknowledging the success and codifying the cooperation of the parties’ multiple uses of these water sources.
The Environment Depends on Water
The same water we depend on for drinking is also used for recreation, by wildlife and for industry. It’s important to balance how we use our water so we can protect and honor our natural systems and the environment.
Tampa Bay Water is proud not only to have provided clean drinking water to our member governments for more than 20 years, but we’ve done so while helping the environment recover and flourish by reducing groundwater pumping and creating alternative water supplies.
Reducing groundwater pumping and building alternative water supplies are only part of Tampa Bay Water’s environmental stewardship efforts. Public outreach is critical to educating and involving the community to protect and conserve our resources, so each year we fund community programs that educate families and students on the importance of protecting and conserving our water resources.
This year, we partnered with our member governments and the Southwest Florida Water Management District to launch Tampa Bay Water Wise, a region-wide rebate program to help homeowners and businesses save money by saving water. The program offers 11 rebate incentives to residents and businesses for purchasing and implementing water saving devices. The goal is to save up to 11 million gallons of water per day by 2030.
Each year, Tampa Bay Water awards mini-grants to local non-profit groups, schools, teachers, universities and community organizations to fund projects that protect drinking water sources in the Tampa Bay region. For the 2020 funding cycle, Tampa Bay Water awarded mini-grants to the following organizations:
One of the best ways to ensure water for future generations is to teach children about protecting and conserving water so they can build good habits from a young age.
Tampa Bay Water continued its partnership with the Glazer Children’s Museum to bring new and exciting additions to the water exhibit including water bottle filling stations, a water treatment station and a pipe wall. The station teaches families how water moves from the source to the tap, while the pipe wall puts water use into the context of their daily lives. The exhibit also includes a climber, where kids become a drop of water to learn the water cycle; an Ocean Sandbox, where kids dive into an augmented reality ocean environment; and educational kiosks so kids can learn more about how local students conserve and protect water.
When the pandemic kept children from visiting the museum, it launched its GCM@Home program that included virtual learning options, including an Edible Aquifer lessen from Tampa Bay Water.
In 2020, we prepared, and the board approved our application to renew the Consolidated Water Use Permit at the same 90 million gallon-per-day annual average pumping limit as the current permit. The permit must be submitted and renewed in 2021.
More than half of our drinking water supply comes from the Consolidated Permit, making it our most significant and important permit. It is also the impetus behind the formation of Tampa Bay Water. Over the past 20 years, Tampa Bay Water has carefully managed our water use to help the lakes and wetlands around our wellfields recover.
Prior to 1998, groundwater was the sole source of drinking water for the region, and the wellfields in the Consolidated Permit were individually permitted to our predecessor agency or various member governments. Collectively, these wellfields had a 191 mgd pumping limit. While pumping averaged closer to 147 mgd, the concentrated groundwater withdrawals amid extreme drought contributed to environmental damage on and near the wellfields.
With the creation of Tampa Bay Water in 1998, the wellfields were consolidated into a single permit, and the collective annual pumping limit was gradually lowered to 90 mgd. In addition to lower pumping limits, the Consolidated Permit required a recovery assessment plan for lakes and wetlands affected by concentrated groundwater pumping.
Tampa Bay Water has been able to pump less than this 90 mgd limit since 2010 by developing alternative water supplies such as river water and desalinated seawater. As a result, most groundwater levels, lakes and wetlands near the Consolidated Permit wellfields have recovered.
As a non-profit, special district of the State of Florida, Tampa Bay Water has no taxing authority. We are funded through the sale of wholesale water to the local governments we serve. We remain fiscally and operationally prudent, building new infrastructure only when it is truly needed and using our Water Shortage Mitigation Plan to guide us through drought conditions, meeting our members’ supply needs in an environmentally sustainable and fiscally sound manner.
Our affordable water rates and financial stability save ratepayers money. We are proud that this year we once again are able to offer water for less than a quarter of a penny per gallon to our member governments, making fiscal year 2020 the ninth consecutive year at the same rate.
Tampa Bay Water’s financials are audited each year by an independent financial auditing firm. Tampa Bay Water’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2020 is available below.
Tampa Bay Water applied for federal, state and regional grants to help offset the costs of our system improvements. In 2020, we received co-funding from the Southwest Florida Water Management District for two feasibility studies for new water supply projects.
Expansion of the Surface Water Treatment Plant and the Seawater Desalination Plant received grants totaling $775,000 in fiscal year 2020. We will request an additional $850,000 in fiscal year 2021 for these two projects.
The regional demand management implementation program, which aims to save up to 11 million gallons per day by the end of 2030, received a grant for $550,000 in fiscal year 2020 and a grant for $1.4 million in fiscal year 2021.