Seawater Desalination Environmental Monitoring Tampa Bay

water supply

Environmental Monitoring


Several studies were conducted prior to building the desalination plant. These studies included:

  • Cumulative Impact Analysis for Master Water Plan projects (including desalination at 50 mgd)
  • U.S. Geological Survey of the Big Bend Power Station area
  • Independent studies were conducted using a pilot plant by:
    • Mote Marine Laboratory
    • Danish Hydraulic Institute
    • University of South Florida (USF)
    • Savannah Laboratory/STL Precision
    • Marinco Laboratory
    • Hillsborough County

Each study was approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and conducted in accordance with FDEP methods by a FDEP-approved laboratory. Each study concluded that the desalination plant would produce high-quality drinking water without harm to Tampa Bay’s water quality or marine life.


The desalination plant has monitoring and alarm systems to track the salinity of the source water, desalinated drinking water and concentrated seawater discharged back into Tampa Bay. Measurements are taken in several areas before, within and after the plant.

Operators continuously monitor the blending ratio of the seawater being returned to the Bay to ensure compliance with environmental permits. The plant’s alarm system will warn plant operators to check or adjust the system. The monitoring system will also automatically shut down affected areas of the facility if monitored levels exceed predetermined parameters.