Since 2018, Tampa Bay Water has been evaluating three water supply options to meet the region's future demands. Those include expansion of surface water treatment at the existing plant or a new plant, expansion of the desalination plant, and a proposed groundwater wellfield. Feasibility studies for each of three potential water supply projects are complete and the board will be selecting a new project(s) in late summer or fall 2022.
The proposed groundwater wellfield, or South Hillsborough Wellfield via Aquifer Recharge Credits, was removed from consideration in this round of potential projects by the Board at its May meeting. This proposed project requires agreement between Tampa Bay Water and Hillsborough County on the cost for aquifer recharge credits. Tampa Bay Water and Hillsborough County were unable to reach a long-term agreement for the credits.
Since this area is deemed a water use caution area by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, no new wells can be built in the area without a “net benefit” to the Floridan Aquifer. Simply put, without the reclaimed credits, the wellfield cannot be built at this time.
Though a new wellfield from reclaimed water credits is not an option for consideration in this round of Master Water Plan projects, it will be placed back into the Long-term Master Water Plan list of projects for future consideration if a longer-term agreement can be reached. Additionally, a scaled-down version of the wellfield may be considered as a short-term solution for southern Hillsborough County needs.