Tampa Bay Water Board Chairman David Fischer kicked off what he called a "new era in water supply development" during groundbreaking ceremonies for the first phase of the Master Water Plan projects. Ground was broken at the site of a new, state-of-the-art 66 MGD regional surface water treatment plant in Hillsborough County. The group of new projects will provide water to utilities in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, including the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa.
The Enhanced Surface Water System consolidates three common elements--storage, treatment and conveyance--of the Tampa Bypass Canal/Hillsborough River High Water and Alafia River surface water sources. For each surface water supply source, Tampa Bay Water proposes a withdrawal schedule that varies with available flows. When river flows are lower, less water is withdrawn. When river flows are higher, more water is withdrawn. No water is withdrawn below a designated low flow amount. This allows Tampa Bay to take advantage of periods of heavy rainfall without affecting the low or high flow regimes of a surface water system. Caution has been taken to ensure that withdrawals from these sources collectively will not harm Tampa Bay's ecosystem.
Here's how the system works. The first 60 million gallons per day withdrawn from the surface water sources will be treated at the new Tampa Bay Regional Water Treatment Plant and then pumped into Tampa Bay Water's regional pipeline system. Amounts withdrawn that exceed 60 millions gallons per day will be pumped to the Tampa Bay Regional Reservoir, located in southern Hillsborough County.
Besides the new surface water plant, the Master Water Plan includes the largest seawater desalination plant in the western hemisphere, and a 15-billion gallon regional reservoir to store water from an enhanced surface water system that will draw water during high flow seasons. Limited groundwater from the re-development of an existing resource in the Brandon area will be treated at a groundwater treatment plant to be built at the facilities site, near the surface water facility. The projects are purposely diverse for sustainability and to provide protection from over reliance on a single source.