It's Good to Have a Goal: Cut Back and Develop New Supplies

Because periods of low rainfall are natural and demand for water is always increasing, the Partnership Agreement includes methods to anticipate and meet our water needs. Of greatest importance, the plan focuses on lowering groundwater pumping so that damaged ecosystems can recover. But, to lower existing withdrawals, we need to  develop of new supplies.

By the end of 2007, Tampa Bay Water must reduce groundwater pumping from its 11 wellfields to 90 million gallons a day (mgd). It must also develop and use at least 85 mgd in new water supplies. The Partnership Agreement directed Tampa Bay Water to create a “Master Water Plan” detailing how these goals would be accomplished.

It includes plans for a desalination plant capable of producing 25 mgd, a surface river water treatment plant, a reservoir to store excess surface water from rivers, new pipelines, and other supplies and infrastructure. 2007 is rapidly approaching and it takes many years to plan, fund, build and test the systems that supply water. Some of these plans and programs have worked better than others. Tampa Bay Water has been successful in cutting back from groundwater by bringing new sources of water into the system.

Still, the development of new supplies has helped to begin the recovery of the environment in Pasco and Hillsborough Counties. It’s important to know that even the cutbacks made to date have only started the recovery. Scientists from the Water Management District say that we have a long way to go. The temptation to turn on the pumps for water withdrawals at the wellfields is strong. The water is cheap and readily available. But the consequences are real and environmental recovery has barely started.


"'ll end up being a desert."

Eileen Hart

That’s why the conservation education programs of Tampa Bay Water and its members are so important. We’ve made some progress, but acceptable environmental recovery has not yet been achieved.

Funding the Future

As part of the 1998 agreement, SWFWMD will provide Tampa Bay Water with a total of  $183 million in locally collected ad valorem (property) taxes to help fund new, alternative water supplies. SWFWMD also agreed to fund local government’s conservation projects with approximately $9 million a year for 10 years. In all, SWFWMD has committed nearly $300 million dollars for these projects and others around Tampa Bay.

"The desal plant has had tremendous difficulties."

Kathy Castor


Desal Plant Aerial
Tampa Bay Water's Desalination Plantin Apollo Beach.

SWFWMD committed $85 million dollars of its Partnership funding to the construction of a large-scale seawater desalination plant in Hillsborough County. The development of the plant was one of the most important components of the Partnership Agreement. The plant is expected to be operational in late 2006 after a number of technical problems have been repaired.

SWFWMD has agreed to commit the money once it determines that the desalination plant will provide a safe, sustainable alternative supply to offset damaging groundwater pumping from regional wellfields. The SWFWMD funds will reduce the wholesale price of desalinated water. Due to this funding the cost of each one thousand gallons of water produced by this plant will be reduced from over $3.01 to approximately $2.35.



"...the ground water aquifer is in serious trouble from over pumping."

Ed Chance


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