Collage of photos from 25 years
Celebrating 25 Years of Innovative Regional Solutions
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Tampa Bay Water is proudly celebrating its 25th anniversary. It’s a major milestone, showing that Tampa Bay Water is a model of regional cooperation and innovation.

See how it all started and watch the video!

We may not be a household name, but we serve a critical role as the wholesale drinking water supplier to Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties, and New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. That makes Tampa Bay Water the largest wholesale water supplier in Florida, serving more than 2.5 million residents.

Tampa Bay Water was created in 1998, as political leaders in all three counties set aside their differences and reached a consensus that made political, financial and environmental sense. Because of their willingness to innovate, it ended 50 years of parochialism that characterized the region’s costly “water wars.”

The concept for a regional utility was simple: common ownership, common water rates. But the solution was far from simple; it was the culmination of two years of negotiations among the member governments we serve; an innovative partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District; and enabling state legislation. In total, 191 local and state officials had to approve the peace accord; of those 191, there were only two dissenting votes.

While many approved of the solution to create Tampa Bay Water, it was a small group of regional visionaries who hammered out the details. The Group of 18, comprised of a board member, administrator and utility director from each of the governments served by Tampa Bay Water’s predecessor, envisioned a regional utility where:

  • Each member utility pays the same wholesale water rate, eliminating the economic disparity among members,
  • The cost of developing new water supplies is shared regionally instead of by those facing proposed reductions in permitted supply or rapid population growth,
  • Voting rights are equitably balanced among the three counties, and
  • Every member has an interest in environmental stewardship and reliable water supply.

Those creating and supporting the new regional utility also set some lofty goals for Tampa Bay Water:

  • Facilitate environmental recovery and resolve outstanding litigation over wellfield permits by reducing groundwater pumping from 11 regional wellfields in the northern Tampa Bay area from 158 million gallons per day to 121 million gallons per day by Dec. 31, 2002, and to 90 million gallons per day by Dec. 31, 2007.
  • Develop at least 85 million gallons of additional water by the end of 2007 to meet the Tampa Bay region’s needs and offset groundwater pumping reductions.
  • Build key pipelines to interconnect the system, so water production can be rotated among facilities in an environmentally and economically sound manner.
  • Promote aggressive conservation in the Tampa Bay region.

Today, 25 years later, Tampa Bay Water has met those goals to the benefit of the region’s residents, environment and economy.

For newer residents, it’s hard to imagine the “water wars” that plagued the region in the 1990s, and the ramifications of a region without Tampa Bay Water we’re all fortunate to never know.

We’ve invested more than $2 billion in alternative water supplies, pipelines, conservation and water quality programs. We now operate one of the most diverse water supply networks in the country, blending high-quality water from our state-of-the-art surface water treatment plant with desalinated seawater and groundwater. Once-stressed lakes and wetlands in and around regional wellfields have recovered. And the Tampa Bay region has some of the lowest per capita water use in the state.

The solution-oriented innovation that drove us 25 years ago continues to guide Tampa Bay Water today. From our long-term plans to regional conservation programs, we continue to research and develop programs to ensure the Tampa Bay region’s drinking water supply remains reliable, affordable and sustainable.

This silver anniversary is an opportunity to honor Tampa Bay Water’s longevity and to celebrate our commitment to innovation, the common thread linking our past and future. Rest assured our staff, with the guidance from our board, is committed to building on 25 years of innovative water solutions for our member governments in the next quarter of a century and beyond.