Tampa Bay Water taps three sources of supply to meet the region’s water needs: groundwater, surface water from local rivers and an off-stream reservoir, and desalinated seawater. The combination of supply sources and high quality water delivery makes Tampa Bay Water’s system one of the most complex supply systems in North America.Every day, Tampa Bay Water must determine the appropriate raw water sources based on a number of factors, including water quality, and provide proper treatment to deliver a continuous water supply to the governments we serve.
With the blended supply of surface water, groundwater and desalinated seawater, Tampa Bay Water sought to understand how the new water chemistry would affect the member government distribution systems, which had operated with only groundwater for decades. Initial research indicated there should be no impacts to regularly maintained systems, however, Tampa Bay Water and its members tested the various supply mixes to ensure the blended water maintained its integrity when it reached customers’ taps.Two Water Research Foundation studies were conducted with the University of Central Florida to understand the effects of different blends of supply sources on distribution pipes which vary in age, material, size and condition.The results of this work indicated that it would be beneficial to the member governments’ distribution systems if treated water alkalinity levels were increased. Tampa Bay Water spent $3.5 million for a regional alkalinity adjustment facility to protect the member governments’ distribution systems from interacting with the blended water, which could otherwise result in water discoloration.Additionally, the results of these pioneering studies have been published by the Water Research Foundation for use by other water utilities across the country.