Desalination plant, reservoir helping Tampa Bay endure Florida’s fiery drought
Desalination plant, reservoir helping Tampa Bay endure Florida’s fiery drought.
The board, also known as Swiftmud, is expected next week to declare a phase one water order.
In the Tampa Bay area, a drought such as this one used to mean pumping more water from the aquifer to replace the lack of rain.
Now that Tampa Bay Water has built a desalination plant and a 15 billion gallon reservoir, the region can handle a drought without damaging the environment, according to chief technical officer Alison Adams.
Those controversial and, at times, trouble-prone facilities give the Tampa Bay region an advantage over most of Florida in responding to the prolonged drought and resulting wildfires.
This year’s dry season across Florida ranks as one of the driest on record, according to state climatologist David Zierden.
The utility’s predecessor, the West Coast Regional Water Supply Authority, was mired in lawsuits because it drew too much water from underground, drying up lakes, swamps and private wells.
During droughts back then, she said, "we would just pump harder on everything" causing serious damage throughout the region.
Since December the desal plant has been pumping from 15 million to 18 million gallons of water a day to slake the region’s thirst in a time of little rainfall, Adams said.
But now, Tampa Bay Water said, the desal plant and reservoir are all functioning.