The board vote in August to expand the utility’s Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant marked the close of Tampa Bay Water’s fifth Long-term Master Water Plan planning cycle started in 2018. But planning is a continual process, and the sixth of the plan is currently underway.
Updated every five years, the Long-term Master Water Plan is a 20-year framework for meeting the region’s future water needs. The plan identifies when and what type of new supplies will need to be built by considering several factors, including demand forecasts, water shortage mitigation strategies and demand management, optimization of existing assets and facilities, new water supply options and where and how water needs to be delivered, in addition to public input.
Developing a new water supply project takes about 10 years to complete once selected for feasibility studies. The process starts with identifying multiple options for new water, which are then pared down to a short list. The short-listed options then go into studies for more rigorous review and assessment to determine costs and feasibility. Then, one or more short-listed options are selected and configured to meet future demands and ultimately brought before the board for a vote, after which the chosen project or projects move forward to design and construction.
Tampa Bay Water kicked off the 2023 Long-term Master Water Plan Update with a presentation at the board meeting Oct. 17. Next, agency staff and consultants will meet with member governments to gain input as they identify the universe of potential supply options. Projects that were not selected for the 2018 Long-term Master Water Plan – the desalination plant expansion, the south Hillsborough wellfield via aquifer recharge credits, and an option for a separate surface water treatment plant – will be considered as part of the universe of options in the current planning cycle.
Community engagement is also a large part of planning process that runs continually throughout feasibility, design and construction. It helps Tampa Bay Water understand the concerns of various stakeholder groups, informs the scope of the shortlisted projects and guides additional outreach in subsequent phases of the work.
The 2023 Long-term Master Water Plan will go before the board for approval in late 2023. For more information and to follow the process as it unfolds, visit futurewater.org.