An Agreement to Secure the Future

Following years of bitter dispute over water supplies, the major communities in Tampa Bay’s water wars finally reached an agreement in 1998. The Northern Tampa Bay New Water Supply and Ground Water Withdrawal Reduction Agreement, also known as the “Partnership Agreement,” ended litigation and provided guidelines to develop new water supplies and protect the environment. Better that money should go to providing new water than to fighting over it.

Healthy Wetland

The Partnership Agreement included SWFWMD and the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority (renamed Tampa Bay Water) with its member governments: Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties, the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

As part of the Agreement, the member governments turned all water supply facilities over to Tampa Bay Water. Nothing like this had ever occurred before. Water supply facilities are a critical public service. Transferring them to Tampa Bay Water was among the most difficult policy decisions the Tampa Bay Region has ever faced. In doing so Tampa Bay Water, became a “true utility.” Tampa Bay Water is now the wholesale supplier of water to all of its member governments. In fact, it is one of the largest utilities in the Southeast United States and is the largest in Florida. It charges the same price for water to all of its member governments. In the past, the cost of water from the Authority was different for each government. But a uniform rate wasn’t the only change brought about by the Partnership Agreement.

"...we haven't created one drop of new water."

David Fischer

Another Healhy Wetland

Because our taps are so reliable — when we turn them on, water is always there — we don’t have to think about where our water comes from or the consequences of taking it from where it is in nature. However, Tampa Bay has a long history of disputes over water resources. In the 1990s these disputes, underscored by drought and the unprecedented need for water supply, threatened to destroy regional cooperation on other important policies like tourism development and road construction. It took leadership to move the region from the courtroom to cooperation. It will take leadership to fulfill the regional agreement that led to peace.

"...this region is interconnected."

Kathy Castor


"Politics play the key role..."

David Fischer



Throughout this website, you’ll have the opportunity to play small videos of people who were involved in shaping Tampa Bay’s water policy. They include activists, elected officials, lawyers and experts. All of them were involved in what is called, “Tampa Bay’s Water Wars.” We thought you’d like to hear what they have to say in their own words. We think you’ll appreciate their very different perspectives.

Meet the Experts