Water-Related News

Tampa Bay’s future water supply likely to be river to tap

An impasse over a proposed groundwater project and the high cost of desalination limited the options.

CLEARWATER — Skimming and treating more from the Alafia and Hillsborough rivers and Tampa Bypass Canal emerged Monday as the leading choice to bolster the region’s future drinking water supply.

The plan — to expand the existing, 20-year-old surface water treatment plant in Tampa or build a brand new plant near the C.W. “Bill” Young Regional Reservoir — is the least costly of the three alternatives that had been under consideration by Tampa Bay Water. The regional utility has been studying ways to add 10 million gallons a day to the drinking water supply by 2028 to serve Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, and the cities of New Port Richey, Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The alternatives dwindled Monday when the Tampa Bay Water board of directors voted unanimously to shelve a plan to build new groundwater wells in southern Hillsborough. That proposal required Hillsborough County simultaneously injecting reclaimed water at sites near the coast to shield potential saltwater intrusion and to boost the underground water levels at the new well field several miles away.