Swing Your Partner

Recently, the desalination plant was the subject of a new debate. Tampa Bay Water insisted that the desal plant, while designed to provide 25 million gallons of water per day, wasn’t meant to do so. They wanted to produce less than the 25 million gallons of water per day people felt was promised. As part of the same debate, Tampa Bay Water wanted to once again increase withdrawals from Pasco and Hillsborough. Tampa Bay Water said the savings to customers was an important factor in their policy proposal.


"...that was just a travesty..."

Eileen Hart

Membrane Train

Membrane trains in Tampa Bay Water's Desalintion Plant, Apollo Beach, FL.

While cost is an important consideration, the restoration and protection of the environment is equally important. And, the cost to customers can be measured in pennies a month. While environmental recovery has begun, it is far from complete. The Partnership Agreement makes it clear that alternative sources are essential to meet this goal. If the water wars taught us anything, it’s that not all of our region’s water can come from the aquifer without severe environmental and economic impacts. The desalination plant is a valuable asset, producing drought-proof, high quality water and allowing for the restoration of natural systems by reducing our need to pump groundwater.

"...its Achilles Heel is cost."

Sonny Vergara

Tampa Bay Water's Apollo Beach Seawater Desalination plant.

The Partnership Agreement formed guidelines for how conflicts like this one should be handled. As with any relationship, disagreements happen. The Partnership Agreement provides for the resolution of disputes through methods like mediation. This method was used as SWFWMD and Tampa Bay Water disagreed over how much water the desalination plant would actually provide. Dispute resolution will continue to be an important tool as we make important decisions about water in the future.

Stay the Course

The Partnership’s many parts were designed to work together. The recent debate over Tampa Bay Desal is an example of how in structuring their new relationship, SWFWMD, Tampa Bay Water and the member governments tried to anticipate and plan for the future—and future disagreements.


"...it does have to continue to be a partnership."

Ronnie Duncan

"...the Partnership Agreement that exist will morph into a partnership for the future."

Bart Weiss

The Partnership Agreement provides a structure for real cooperation to solve regional water issues. To advance the progress attained so far, we must fulfill the terms of the Partnership Agreement. The agreement takes past mistakes and future demands into consideration to safeguard the region’s environment and provide for the future. But we must allow the plan to run its intended course in order to see the anticipated results.



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