Groundwater levels, lakes and wetlands near the Consolidated Permit wellfields have recovered, thanks to 20 years of reduced groundwater pumping and working closely with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to develop and complete scientific analyses for a robust environmental recovery plan. This collective success shows that groundwater can be a sustainable, cost-effective part of the region’s water supply. It also shows that the region’s $1 billion investment in a diverse, interconnected system has paid off for the region and the environment.
As the current Consolidated Water Use Permit nears expiration in January 2021, Tampa Bay Water will request a renewed permit at the same 90 million gallon-per-day (mgd) annual average pumping limit as the current permit. The permit renewal application will be presented to the board for approval at its October 2020 meeting.
The Consolidated Permit is extremely important to Tampa Bay Water and the region because the wellfields in the Consolidated Permit supplied about half the water we delivered in 2019, making it the single-largest piece of the water supply puzzle for the Tampa Bay region.
The initial Consolidated Permit was issued by the District in 1998 when Tampa Bay Water was created and purchased the member government wellfields in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. At the time, groundwater was the sole source of drinking water for the region. The permit gradually lowered the annual average pumping limit for 11 wellfields in northern Tampa Bay from 158 mgd to 90 mgd and included the requirement for 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, groundwater levels, lakes and wetlands near the Consolidated Permit wellfields have recovered.
The Consolidated Permit is an integral part to providing clean, high-quality drinking water to more than 2.5 million people in the region. Tampa Bay Water looks forward to presenting our renewal application to the board in October.