The U.S. Drought Monitor Map for Florida shows the Tampa Bay region and much of south-central Florida in a severe drought. Monthly rainfall totals are well below normal. In fact, from October 1 to March 31, the region’s rainfall was nearly 57 percent below normal!
Reduced rainfall means declining river and aquifer levels. Currently, the Hillsborough River is flowing at 73 percent less than normal monthly average and the Alafia is 75 percent less than its normal monthly flow level. Groundwater levels in March 2017 were generally 3.4 feet lower than in March 2016.
The good news is that Tampa Bay Water is well positioned to respond to these drought conditions and increasing regional demand for water. Our interconnected system includes diverse sources like seawater desalination as well as a reservoir to that holds 15-billion gallons when full.
We have approximately 8 billion gallons of water stored in the regional reservoir, which is enough to supply our surface water treatment plant with 70 million gallons a day for 4 months. We are also operating the seawater desalination plant at approximately 15 million gallons a day and will ramp up production as needed. Groundwater production for the past 12-months has been well below permitted levels, so we have flexibility with this source as well.
As the drought continues, residents and business can do their part to extend our water supplies. For tips on how to conserve water inside and outside the home, click here.