History of Tampa Bay Water


Tampa Bay Water History

Tampa Bay Water was created in 1998 after a two-year process that resulted in contracts and legislation that changed the name, structure and operations of the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority. The creation of Tampa Bay Water ended the region’s ‘water wars’ and created a new alliance between the six governments in west-central Florida: Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Under Tampa Bay Water, the local governments work together to develop and supply drinking water to the region in an environmentally sound manner. The costs of new supply development and environmental stewardship are shared regionally.

In the 1990s, eleven regional groundwater facilities served nearly 90 percent of the members’ demand for groundwater. In 1998, the face value of the permits for these facilities totaled 192 million gallons per day (mgd).

The governments that formed Tampa Bay Water have worked regionally and cooperatively to solve the region’s water supply problems. In the past decade, Tampa Bay Water designed, permitted and constructed a billion dollar water supply system that is diverse and environmentally sound.

After investigating a number of options, Tampa Bay Water’s Board of Directors approved construction of the Master Water Plan Configuration I in November, 1998. The plan included a number of diverse, alternative water supply sources and key pipelines and interconnections.

The first alternative water supply to serve the region was surface water withdrawn from the Tampa Bypass Canal and treated at the Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant. Configuration I created an expanded, interconnected regional water supply while also keeping pace with the region’s growing water demands. The projects of Configuration I were expected to meet the region’s water needs through 2012.

In late 2010, Tampa Bay Water expanded its Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant. The expansion increased the plant’s rated treatment capacity from 72 mgd to 120 mgd, or 90-99 mgd on an annual average basis, meeting 50 percent of the region’s drinking water needs.

An important part of the Tampa Bay Region’s drinking water supply is the Seawater Desalination facility. This drought-proof, alternative water supply was added to the system in late 2007 provides up to 25 mgd of drinking water to the region.

Seawater coming into the plant goes through a rigorous pretreatment process, then freshwater is separated from the seawater using reverse osmosis. The end product is high-quality drinking water that supplies up to 10 percent of the region’s needs.

Today, the region is served by a combination of groundwater, river water and desalinated seawater, which has reduced wellfield pumping by more than 50 percent since 1998.


Surface Water
Treatment Plant


For information regarding contracts and agreements related to the agency’s governance structure, please contact Tampa Bay Water’s Records Department at records@tampabaywater.org or 727.796.2355 or 813.996.7009.