Future Sources of Water for the Tampa Bay Region | Tampa Bay Water


Planning for the future is an on-going process at Tampa Bay Water that includes more than potential new supplies. Our long-term planning process includes analyses of future demand, conservation potential, supply reliability, water shortage mitigation planning and hydrologic uncertainty – all wrapped up in the Long-term Master Water Plan planning process.

This 20-year plan is a framework for meeting the region’s future drinking water needs. The Long-term Master Water Plan identifies future water needs and potential water supply projects that could be designed and built to meet those needs for the region. The plan, which was instated in 1998, is updated every five years; each update must be approved by the agency’s board of directors. The most recent update was completed in December 2018.


Master Water Plan Flow Chart


The planning process includes data from a comprehensive demand forecasting model that help us predict future water demands by analyzing water use data, weather, demographic and economic data. Our Demand Management Plan quantifies potential water savings from passive and active conservation efforts. Planning for dry times is also part of the process. Operational and supply uncertainty is forecasted and modeled, to help understand how to mitigate and manage that risk.

Altogether, these models and plans forecast how much water will be needed in the future and when, so we can plan new supplies at the right time to keep our region growing and thriving.

The Need for New Water

Tampa Bay Water’s current supply is expected to meet the region’s water needs through 2028, even with projected growth. We are investigating potential new supplies now because it can take 10 years or more to investigate, design, permit, fund, build and startup a new water supply project.

The Long-term Master Water Plan is a comprehensive examination of supply, demand, system hydraulics, water quality, reliability, public engagement and more. To meet the region’s water needs, the 2018 update plan includes:

  • Conserving up to 11 million gallons per day through regional demand management 
  • Optimizing the existing surface water treatment plant and desalination plant to gain 5-10 million gallons per day of additional supply 
  • Studying three potential new projects to refine cost, yield and permittability

The three top-ranked new water supply projects in the Master Water Plan are:

  • Expanding the regional surface water treatment plant to treat additional water from the Tampa Bypass Canal, Alafia River and C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir 
  • Expanding the existing desalination plant to treat additional seawater 
  • New groundwater via aquifer recharge credits (this project would include a new groundwater wellfield in southern Hillsborough County by purchasing aquifer recharge credits from Hillsborough County via its South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project)

Tampa Bay Water will begin design and permitting studies on the identified project options for future board consideration. A regional demand management program and projects to optimize our existing infrastructure will go before Tampa Bay Water’s board for consideration in 2019.