Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors this week took actions to ensure the region has enough drinking water for at least the next 20 years.
As part of the regional supplier’s Long-term Master Water Plan, the board approved a contract for the administration of a regional demand management, or water conservation, program with Electric & Gas Industries Association. This program aims to save up to 11 million gallons per day (mgd) of water by 2030 and delay the need to build new supplies. Regional conservation costs about one-quarter of the cost of the cheapest new water source option.
“Saving water saves money. It delays the need for new supplies, which delays capital costs and new debt,” said Ken Herd, chief science and technical officer for Tampa Bay Water. “We understand that Tampa Bay area residents want us to do everything we can to save water before we develop a costly alternative.”
This rebate program includes eleven incentive opportunities for single-family homes, multi-family homes, commercial and industrial properties and new housing developments. The mix includes indoor and outdoor programs to best fit the needs of the current Tampa Bay area market.
The board also approved contracts to study water supply project options that individually could provide 10-15 mgd of drinking water by 2028 when demand projections currently show the region will need new water. Those projects include:
- Surface Water Expansion: Expanding the regional surface water treatment plant or adding a second treatment plant in south Hillsborough County to treat additional water from the Tampa Bypass Canal, Alafia River and C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir. The board approved the engineering firm, Hazen and Sawyer, to complete feasibility studies.
- Desalination Plant Expansion: Expanding the existing desalination plant to treat additional seawater. The board approved engineering firm, Black & Veatch, to complete feasibility studies.
- New Groundwater Wellfield: New groundwater via aquifer recharge credits (this project would include a new groundwater wellfield in southern Hillsborough County by purchasing aquifer recharge credits from Hillsborough County via its South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project). The board approved HSW Engineering to complete the design of a test well for the project.
The utility is investigating potential new supplies now because it can take 10 years or more to investigate, design, permit, fund, build and startup a new water supply project. A board decision on which supply to build to meet 2028 demands is expected in December of 2022.