While the Tampa Bay area ended 2023 with normal rainfall in November and December, the region remains in a Stage 1 Drought Alert due to a 9.3-inch rainfall deficit over the past 12 months. During the same period, the median flow in the Hillsborough River was down 9.1 million gallons per day (mgd). El Niño rainfall, cooler weather and one-day-per-week watering restrictions helped lower water usage over the last two months, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
Tampa Bay Water is managing two regional supply conditions as it plans for the remainder of the 2024 fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, 2024. First, the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir storage volume is at 7.21 billion gallons, or 46% capacity, as of Jan. 20. Typically, the reservoir stores around 14 billion gallons in January. Second, the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant will be offline for repairs and resume production in late 2024. This means Tampa Bay Water will depend more on groundwater and river water to meet the region’s needs, so it's vital that residents continue to conserve water.
Tampa Bay Water is requesting that the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) extend one-day-per-week watering restrictions through July 1. The Agency is also requesting an emergency order from the District to temporarily increase its permitted withdrawals from the Alafia River from 10% to 19%, up to a maximum of 60 million gallons per day (the current limit) to support the regional surface water system.
“We have plenty of water to meet the region’s needs, but it means we may go over our permitted groundwater pumping limits if rain is inconsistent, if we have a warm spring and early summer and if residents don’t follow watering restrictions,” said Warren Hogg, chief science officer at Tampa Bay Water. “We ask that everyone treat water like the precious and limited resource that it is.”
Find your watering day and additional water-saving tips at MyWaterDay.org.