Surface water, or river water, was the first alternative drinking water source to groundwater to be added to the Tampa Bay region’s wholesale water supply. Since late 2002, surface water has been treated at Tampa Bay Water’s state-of-the-art surface water treatment plant. The plant is the hub of our Enhanced Surface Water System, which is designed to take advantage of 47-50 inches of rain that typically falls in the Tampa Bay region.
When available, water is skimmed from the Alafia River, Hillsborough River and the Tampa Bypass Canal. Some is treated for immediate use at the Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant and surplus water is stored in the 15.5-billion gallon C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir to supply the water treatment plant during dry times.
Care is taken to ensure that Tampa Bay Water’s permitted surface water withdrawals are conservative and based on available river flows to protect both low and high flows. When river flows are lower, less water is withdrawn. When river flows are higher, more water is withdrawn. And no water is withdrawn below a designated low-flow amount.