Tampa Bay Regional Water Supply and Drought Update
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Contact: Brandon Moore
727-791-2304 | 727-470-0702

CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 8, 2013)— Tampa Bay Water has sufficient drinking water supplies to serve the region; however, the Tampa Bay region is moving to Phase 4 water shortage status. The Phase-4 status is due to consistent, below-average rainfall since October, warmer than average temperatures, exhausted river water flows and other regional water supply conditions. This regional shortage is considered to be at a Phase 4 status under the agency’s modified Water Shortage Mitigation Plan.

Water levels in the Alafia River and Tampa Bypass Canal remain well below permit threshold limits, meaning that there is no river water available to be captured and used by Tampa Bay Water. The regional surface water system will be offline until the summer rainy season. The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant continues to produce up to 20 million gallons per day during the dry season.

The function of the agency’s Water Shortage Plan is to identify when changes in water supply conditions and/or rain patterns occur. Regional watering restrictions are set by the Southwest Florida Water Management District and were changed to a Phase III shortage on February 26, 2013.

Regional water facts in February 2013:

  • Rainfall totals in February averaged about 1.4 inches, which is about 1.7 inches below normal. Heaviest rainfall amounts occurred throughout central and western Pasco County with generally between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain. Eastern Hillsborough County received the least rainfall with generally less than 1 inch occurring.
  • Hillsborough River flow was 36 percent of the mean monthly flow for February, while the Alafia River flow was less 25 percent of normal.
  • Regional water supply demands averaged about 230 million gallons per day, about 4 mgd higher than January 2013 demand.

Rainfall totals have been below normal since October 2012 and are predicted to continue this trend throughout the spring dry season. Weather conditions are expected to be dry and warm for the next 30-60 days. In order to alleviate the current low levels of surface water and to provide flows for treatment, consistent and above normal rainfall is needed throughout the spring dry season, which is not anticipated.

Tampa Bay Water has requested the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey and counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco reduce water demands and enforce water restrictions.

For more information contact Dave Bracciano or Alison Adams at 727-796-2355.