CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Tampa Bay region’s wet winter means good news for its drinking water supply. Tampa Bay Water’s 15.5-billion gallon reservoir – the region’s water savings account – is full, months ahead of schedule.
“From a water supply perspective, this is the best-case scenario for our region heading into the driest months of the year,” said Matt Jordan, Tampa Bay Water’s general manager. “By completing the renovation project ahead of schedule, and with help from Mother Nature, Tampa Bay Water stands ready to deliver.”
The C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir resumed full operations in November 2014 after being offline for a two-year renovation project. Tampa Bay Water hoped to fill the storage facility by the end of summer, when the region typically receives most of its rainfall. Instead, a wet winter has kept the Alafia and Hillsborough rivers flowing enough to fill the reservoir to its capacity in just four months.
Tampa Bay Water saves surface water in the reservoir during wet times and withdraws that water for treatment during dry times. The reservoir helps Tampa Bay Water take advantage of Florida’s seasonal rainfall and makes the regional water supply system more reliable and drought-resistant.
A full reservoir gives Tampa Bay Water more flexibility with its supply sources, which include groundwater, desalinated seawater and river water. It helps the agency deliver a reliable supply of drinking water while balancing cost and environmental sustainability.
Tampa Bay Water will keep its surface water treatment plant running throughout the dry season to offset groundwater withdrawals. The agency is permitted to withdraw an annual average of 90 million gallons per day from its 11 consolidated wellfields. Tampa Bay Water is currently well below its permitted limits. Having more surface water available also allows the agency to produce less water from the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant, its most expensive source.
Although the regional water supply is stable, Tampa Bay Water encourages residents and businesses to use water efficiently during the dry season by using only what is needed. The agency says that residents can make the most impact by focusing on saving water outside of the home and recommends the following: