National Drinking Water Week is dedicated to bringing a higher awareness and attention to drinking water. It’s an opportunity to recognize the essential role drinking water plays in our lives and where it comes from. Tampa Bay Water blends three sources to provide drinking water: Surface Water, Groundwater, and Desalinated Seawater.
The treated water meets the quality standards established by Tampa Bay Water’s members and is superior to both state and federal drinking water standards. Some surface water is treated for immediate use, while the rest is transferred to and stored in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. The reservoir is the regional drinking water system’s water savings account, and water from it is used during the region’s dry times.
Groundwater is the largest source of Tampa Bay Water’s water supply. Groundwater is pumped from the Floridan Aquifer, an underground layer of limestone that stores billions of gallons of water, and it is then transferred through well fields. Seven treatment facilities disinfect the groundwater before it is sent to local governments or blended with other supplies.
Groundwater was once the sole source of drinking water for the Tampa Bay region. Groundwater pumping, drought conditions, development and drainage issues all combined to cause environmental damage in the area. Tampa Bay Water has progressively decreased the region’s dependency on groundwater by introducing different sources, like surface water and desalinated seawater.
Desalinated Seawater is seawater transformed into drinking water through a process called reverse osmosis. The treatment plant is located at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station. The water is used as part of the power plant’s cooling process, and a portion of the cooling water is used in the desalination process to create drinking water.
Using seawater that has already passed through the TECO intake system allows the desalination process to complete without hurting fish and other marine life. The desalination plant uses 44 million gallons a day to make up to 25 million gallons of drinking water and 19 million gallons per day of concentrated seawater. The concentrated seawater is diluted and distributed back to Tampa Bay.
Water from the three different sources is treated at water treatment plants, blended together and transferred by large pipelines to our member governments and their 2.3 million customers.