When Tampa Bay Water was formed 15 years ago, one of the goals of the regional utility was to reduce groundwater pumping at long-producing facilities to enable the environment to recover. Groundwater pumping was one of the causes of low water levels in lakes and wetlands near regional wellfields. (Other factors affecting water levels include drainage changes and development).
Recovered lakes and wetlands respond to rainfall trends, so water levels are high when they are supposed to be, such as the end of summer, and low when they are supposed to be, such as the end of spring or during drought. Recovered systems also reflect the degree of adjacent development, which affects drainage and recharge.
With the development of surface water supplies and desalinated seawater, Tampa Bay Water has been able to significantly reduce groundwater pumping since 2003. And the environment has responded. In some areas, water levels in wetlands have increased by up to two feet, while at others water levels have increased more than four feet!
Following are a series of before and after photos that show the remarkable recovery of several environmental systems.