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Tampa Water Department Responds to Prolonged Period of Low Rainfall

Tampa Water Department Responds to Prolonged Period of Low Rainfall by Temporarily Purchasing Water from Wholesale Water Provider


For the second time this calendar year, the Tampa Water Department will be purchasing water from Tampa Bay Water (TBW). This purchase will begin Monday, September 11, 2023. Tampa Bay Water supplies wholesale drinking water to Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, as well as New Port Richey, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. 

“Although some of our customers may notice taste and odor differences, the water remains safe to drink and use in their homes and businesses,” said John Ring, Water Production Manager for the Tampa Water Department.  

Why this purchase is necessary: 

  • Lack of recent rainfall: This has been an unusually dry rainy season and customer demand for water has remained high.  
  • To comply with the requirements of our water use permit: The Tampa Water Department is allowed to withdraw up to 82 million gallons of water per day (MGD) on an annual average from the Hillsborough River Reservoir. Sustained levels of high drinking water demand due to the lack of rainfall has led to increased withdrawals from the Hillsborough River Reservoir approaching our limit. 

Projected timeline for additional water purchases: 

  • Purchasing additional water from TBW will begin on September 11, 2023.  
  • No end date has yet been determined but estimate that we may need to purchase additional water for at least four months.  
  • The Water Department most recently purchased water from TBW from April 20, 2023 through June 9, 2023.  

What customers should expect: 

  • Some customers, particularly those in the New Tampa area, may notice taste and odor differences. This is due to a difference in the water source.  Water purchased from TBW can be a blend of groundwater, surface water, or desalinated water. 
  • Starting September 2023: Tampa Water customers will see an additional charge on their utility bill, listed as “TBW Pass-Through.” This charge will continue through November 2023. This charge is associated with the previous purchase of water from TBW earlier this year. Historically, this has resulted in a small increase of less than $1 per month for the average household. 
  • Starting February 2024: The pass-through charge for the water being purchased now will appear on customer bills starting with their February 2024 statements. 

Actions customers can take to save water: 

  • Follow Tampa’s mandatory irrigation rules. Residents are only allowed to irrigate up to twice a week on specific days. Allowable watering days varies by address. No watering is allowed on Sundays or between 8am and 6pm. Violations can result in citations ranging from $100 to $500 and a mandatory court appearance. Visit tampa.gov/WaterRestrictions for more information. 
  • The Water Department is committed to assisting customers with water conservation. Customers are encouraged to sign up for free water conservation workshops. The Water Conservation team is launching a new series of virtual workshops to help customers save water. The workshops start September 21. Visit tampa.gov/water/outreach to learn more.