Tampa Bay Water held a virtual community meeting on August 24, 2021. The video recording of the meeting is below.
Southern Hillsborough County is one of the fastest growing areas in the Tampa Bay region. It is also designated a Water Use Caution Area by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District). To address growing water needs in this area, the District has adopted the “net benefit” concept where any new withdrawal from the aquifer must be offset by another source and result in an additional positive effect within the same aquifer.
Using this approach, a new wellfield could be developed in southern Hillsborough County by purchasing aquifer recharge credits from Hillsborough County via its South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project (SHARP). SHARP involves pumping reclaimed water into a salty, coastal zone of the aquifer. Pilot studies show that the recharge water increases pressure and creates a barrier that prevents saltwater intrusion into fresh groundwater. It also increases aquifer levels several miles inland from the recharge well location. This increase in groundwater levels enables freshwater withdrawals 5 miles inland to supply the area’s growing drinking water needs. No reclaimed water is withdrawn for drinking due to the distance from the recharge wells and the east-to-west flow of the aquifer.
The proposed 7.5-million gallon per day (mgd) groundwater wellfield will require:
Tampa Bay Water has studied the feasibility of this project since 2019. Remaining tasks include:
Tampa Bay Water conducted focus groups, public opinion surveys, telephone town halls and speakers bureau presentations to obtain input used in the Long-term Master Water Plan. Public outreach will continue for those projects selected for continued evaluation.
This project is one of three top-ranked projects under further evaluation to meet the region’s drinking water needs in the 2028 timeframe. The potential projects are the culmination of five years of analysis though Tampa Bay Water’s Long-term Master Water Plan. This 20-year framework for meeting the region’s future drinking water needs includes analyses of future demand, conservation potential, supply reliability, water shortage mitigation planning and hydrologic uncertainty along with potential water supply projects to ensure adequate drinking water in the future. For more information, visit tampabaywater.org/future-drinkingwater-sources.
NEED: 10 million gallons per day by 2028
SOURCE: Floridan Aquifer
PROJECT YIELD: 7.5-20 million gallons per day
KEY POINTS: new groundwater via aquifer recharge credits; net benefit to aquifer; within high growth area