Planning for Growth and Resiliency
Planning for Growth and Resiliency

Published on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Planning for Growth and Resiliency

Responsible water utilities are always planning for the future. The Tampa Bay region will need an additional 10 million gallons per day by 2028 and another 10 million gallons per day by 2038. It’s an on-going process at Tampa Bay Water that includes more than developing 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 a planning process that includes data from a comprehensive demand forecasting model to help predict future water demands. The model analyzes water use data, weather, demographic and economic data.

Our Demand Management Plan quantifies potential water savings from regional conservation efforts. Planning for droughts 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.

As the largest wholesale water utility in the southeastern United States, Tampa Bay Water continually grapples with seasonal water availability issues and periodic droughts, which will likely be exacerbated by climate variability conditions.

Nearly 35-40 percent of Tampa Bay Water’s supplies comes from local rivers and Tampa Bay. Using river water sources adds uncertainty to Tampa Bay Water’s operations and makes the Tampa Bay region more susceptible to the effects of climate variability. Applied research has been a hallmark for Tampa Bay Water's efforts in addressing climate variability. Working with local, state and national partners, the agency conducts assessments of climate-variability risks on its ability to provide drinking water to its members.

Tampa Bay Water is involved in several research studies to find answers to the following questions:

  • How will the earth’s changing climate affect our local rainfall?
  • Will rainfall be less predictable in the future?
  • Will river flows be less predictable?
  • How good will our estimates be and what can we rely on for future water supplies?
Tampa Bay Water is a member the Florida Water and Climate Alliance (FloridaWCA), which aims to better understand how varying weather affects the reliability of our water supplies. Our engineers and scientists use this information to better manage our water supply system under whatever conditions Mother Nature may provide in the future. Other members include the University of Florida Water Institute, Florida State University, three water management districts and six major Florida public water supply utilities.

Tampa Bay Water is also collaborating with other large U.S. water providers through the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA), 10 of the nation's largest water providers that collectively supply drinking water for more than 43 million people throughout the United States. Together, these utilities are collecting data, examining modeling tools and holding forums to exchange information with the goal to better understand the impact of changing weather patterns on the world's drinking water resources.

Tampa Bay Water also participated in the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel, which is working to build a resilient community and plan for sea level rise impacts on the Tampa Bay region's infrastructure. The panel of local scientists and resource managers developed a sea level rise study for the Tampa Bay region to incorporate local data with the international projections so that local governments and regional agencies could make better informed decisions about responding to sea level rise.
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