Frequently Asked Questions

water supply

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tampa Bay Water’s Long-term Master Water Plan?

The Tampa Bay Water Long-term Master Water Plan is a 20-year plan that identifies potential water supply projects that could be designed and built to meet future drinking water needs for the region. The long-term planning process includes analyses of future demand, conservation potential, supply reliability, water shortage mitigation planning and hydrologic uncertainty.

How often does Tampa Bay Water update its Long-term Master Water Plan?

Tampa Bay Water updates its Long-term Master Water Plan every five years.

Why does Tampa Bay Water update its Long-term Master Water Plan so often?

Being a responsible utility means planning today for water tomorrow. Beyond good utility management, Tampa Bay Water is required to update the plan every five years through its agreement with its member governments. It can take 10 years or more to plan, permit and build a new water supply project, so continual planning is vital to meeting future water needs. 

How does Tampa Bay Water meet the region’s drinking water needs?

Tampa Bay Water is able to meet the region’s drinking water needs through a diverse, flexible supply network that includes groundwater, surface water and desalinated seawater.

Does Tampa Bay Water collect stakeholder input on the Long-term Master Water Plan?

Yes, stakeholder input is an important part of our planning. For each plan update, Tampa Bay Water collects input from its member governments, local planning agencies, environmental and civic groups as well as from citizens.  We will be making community presentations and scheduling public meetings, once more information is available on the various concepts.

How does Tampa Bay Water determine if a project will move forward for development?

Projects are studied to determine if they are technically feasible, environmentally sustainable, reliable and cost-effective. A ranked short-list of projects will be recommended to Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors for approval. The approved project or projects will be pursued as the next water supply sources for the region. 

When will Tampa Bay Water make a decision on which projects will be developed?

A ranked short-list of projects will be presented to Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors in late 2018. Currently the agency’s system will meet the region’s drinking water needs for the next 15 years.

Why are you looking at reclaimed water?

Water is too valuable to be used just once. By recycling water, we can bolster drinking water supplies without taking more water from the environment. It is one of several source options on the table that will be examined to see if it is a feasible, reliable, cost-effective option for the region.

So many areas are still inundated with water…why don’t you just pump more from the wellfields?

Tampa Bay Water reduced its groundwater production in the early 2000s to allow groundwater levels and the environment in and around our 11 regional wellfields to recover. We have been working closely with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to monitor that recovery. It may be possible to adjust our withdrawals in the future, but that won’t be known until we have enough data to understand the extent of water level and environmental recovery. Sustainable ground water pumping will not fix short-term flooding problems.

The Tampa Bay region is frequently under water restrictions. Does this indicate there is not enough supply to meet demand?

No, it does not. Restrictions on lawn watering are a way of life in the Tampa Bay region. Sometimes during times of drought, we face further restrictions at the discretion of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. These restrictions are aimed at protecting the environment and stretching available resources until rains can replenish natural systems. Tampa Bay Water’s continual water supply planning ensures the agency is able to meet the drinking water needs of the region.

Will the development of new projects by Tampa Bay Water impact current water rates?

Not at this time. Our board of directors will consider and discuss project costs and any potential rate impacts in an open, public setting before approving a project or projects for implementation. Tampa Bay Water is a non-profit government agency funded solely through the sale of drinking water to our member governments.

Does Tampa Bay Water’s Long-term Master Water Plan include conservation initiatives?

Each of Tampa Bay Water’s member governments is responsible for conservation and demand management for their customers. As a result, the Tampa Bay region has low per capita water use compared to the rest of the country. To ensure supply closely matches demand, we use our member governments’ water efficiency data in our planning process. This ensures we don’t overburden our system by building more supply than is needed.

Does Tampa Bay Water's Long-term Master Water Plan include protecting our drinking water sources?

Yes. Source water protection is a priority for the agency. However, since Tampa Bay Water doesn’t own area watersheds, protecting our drinking water sources requires a community effort. Residents, farmers and businesses can protect their drinking water sources by reducing fertilizer run-off, avoiding pesticide use near waterways, picking up pet waste, never dumping anything down storm drains and more. To learn more ways to protect drinking water, click here.