In Florida, periodic droughts are a part of life. That’s why Tampa Bay Water created the Water Shortage Mitigation Plan, which ensures the region has clean, affordable drinking water, even in drier times.
This plan, updated every five years, is our management tool to guide short-term water resource operation during drought conditions, allowing us to meet our members’ supply needs in an environmentally sustainable manner. It defines triggers for entering and exiting four water shortage stages of increasing severity during drought conditions, which follow the water shortage phases defined by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
The plan also outlines the order of supply sources to be used to meet demand. The first action is maximizing the use of the desalination facility, followed by increasing surface water withdrawals from rivers and the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which holds 15.5 billion gallons of water to sustain us through drier times. Increased groundwater pumping above our permitted amount is the last option, and would be used only in severe, prolonged drought conditions – after all other sources have been maximized or depleted – to avoid public health and safety issues for our service areas.
This year, as Tampa Bay Water prepares to renew its Consolidated Water Use Permit, we are asking to include the Water Shortage Mitigation Plan in the permit renewal.
“Adding our plan to the permit demonstrates our commitment to the public and the environment,” said Water Use Permitting Manager Warren Hogg, P.G. “It formalizes our responsibility for sound planning during droughts; it further solidifies our stewardship to the environment around our wellfields, and it’s prudent fiscal planning for our ratepayers because it means we won’t have to build costly alternative supplies that we need for only a short time.”