Several Projects Under Consideration to Bring New Water to Region

Projections show Tampa Bay Water will need to supply an additional 10 million gallons per day (mgd) of water by 2028 to meet increased demand from population growth.

Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors is scheduled to select the next configuration of water supply projects to meet this need in December 2022. Among consideration are expanding surface water treatment capacity, expanding the desalination facility and a new South Hillsborough Wellfield via aquifer recharge credits.

Tampa Bay Water held a virtual public meeting May 20 to share information and gather feedback on the surface water capacity expansion project. A virtual public meeting for the proposed new wellfield will be held Aug. 24.

Surface Water Capacity Expansion Could Bring Region Additional Water

Tampa Bay Water held a virtual public meeting May 20 to discuss maximizing surface water treatment capabilities by either expanding the existing regional surface water treatment plant or building a new surface water treatment plant on the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir property. Nearly 40 people attended to learn about these options and provided feedback.

“We are pleased that residents attended and provided feedback,” said Chuck Carden, general manager for Tampa Bay Water. “We work hard to balance the region’s water supply needs with the needs of the people affected by our pipelines and buildings, and public input helps us make better siting and construction decisions.”

Tampa Bay Water’s existing Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant is part of Tampa Bay Water’s interconnected system serving all six member governments. Expansion here would take advantage of existing infrastructure and operations and maintenance staff, making this option more affordable. Challenges of expanding the facility are that it is farther away from future demand areas, which would increase pumping costs to move water where it is needed; it could entail service interruptions during construction; it has space constraints for future treatment additions beyond this expansion, and it will rely on existing infrastructure with a reduced remaining useful life.

The other option is to build a new surface water treatment plant near the regional reservoir, located on 5,200 acres in southeastern Hillsborough County off Boyette Road, north of County Road 672 and west of County Road 39. This option takes advantage of plenty of room for expansion and would provide a new water supply near an area of growing demand, thereby reducing pumping costs. It would also limit service interruptions because it would not impact the existing facility. Challenges of building a new facility include higher capital and operating costs from lack of existing infrastructure; the need for an additional pipeline from the new facility to a Hillsborough County connection point; and the potential for the water in the pipes to stagnate during shutdown events. Additionally, this location would serve only one of Tampa Bay Water’s member governments since it would not be fully interconnected to the regional supply system.

For more information on the surface water expansion options, to watch the meeting video or to download the presentation slides, visit tampabaywater.org/swe.

New Southern Hillsborough County Wellfield Considered for Next Water Project

One of the three projects under consideration to bring new water to the region involves building a new groundwater wellfield in southern Hillsborough County using credits through the County’s South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project (SHARP). If selected, this project could produce about 7.5 mgd of new water.

However, because lands south of I-4 fall within the Southern Water Use Caution Area, no new withdrawals can be made from the aquifer in this area unless they are offset by another source and result in an additional positive effect within the same aquifer. The Southwest Florida Water Management District adopted this “net benefit” concept to provide flexibility to address the area’s growing water needs.

SHARP involves pumping treated reclaimed water into a non-potable, brackish area of the aquifer near the south Hillsborough County coastline. The injected water creates a barrier that helps prevent saltwater intrusion into the aquifer and increases aquifer levels several miles inland. This program would create credits that would offset withdrawals Tampa Bay Water could make from a new wellfield in southern Hillsborough County.

The project depends on several factors, one of which is public input. Tampa Bay Water is holding a virtual public meeting to share the details of the project and offer residents an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Check soon at tampabaywater.org/shw for more information and to register.