Breaking New Ground: Innovative Water Supply Solutions for the Tampa Bay Region

The year 2000 was both the beginning of a new millennium and a new era in water supply for our region. Tampa Bay Water ushered in this new era by breaking new ground in water supply development, facility operations and management, and environmental stewardship.

The high point of the year came on September 15, 2000, when the agency broke ground on the first phase of the Master Water Plan. Board members, Tampa Bay Water staff and consultants were joined by representatives of the Southwest Florida Water Management District to commemorate construction of the region’s water supply solutions.

The projects in the Master Water Plan were among the most progressive water supply initiatives in the nation: a 25-million-gallon per day seawater desalination plant; a 15.5 billion-gallon reservoir to store river water from the Tampa Bypass Canal, Alafia and Hillsborough rivers; a 66-million gallon per day surface water treatment plant; and a network of pipelines to connect new and existing systems.

What made the $600 million Master Water Plan even more innovative were the public-private partnerships designed to deliver cutting-edge projects at competitive prices.

The need for diverse new water supplies was reinforced that same year as the Tampa Bay region suffered from the worst drought on record. In addition to drought conditions, Tampa Bay Water was developing new supplies to accommodate groundwater pumping reductions as part of its partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

These diverse new supplies were projected to meet demands through, at least, 2010.

Eighteen years later and the Tampa Bay region enjoys one of the most reliable, diverse and flexible water supply systems in the nation. In total, our region has invested more than $1 billion in water supply infrastructure to keep pace with growing water demands. Our water supply systems is built to be resilient, withstand droughts and care for the environment while supporting our region’s economy and way of life.